Mood swings

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

September 15, 2020

June 04, 2022

Mood swings
Mood swings

Emotional ups and downs are a part and parcel of life for everyone. It is normal to feel happy one day and sad the next. As long as these mood changes don't interrupt one's daily life, it is normal to experience them now and again.

Of course, mood changes become a health concern if they disrupt someone's life such as by reducing their productivity or affecting their overall sense of well-being. This could happen if the mood swings involve rapid or drastic changes in mood.

Mood swings may be a symptom of premenstrual syndrome, pregnancymental health conditions such as some personality disorders, or physiological changes (changes in your body) that you may not even be aware of.

While people sometimes describe their experiences as an "emotional rollercoaster", mood swings can be overwhelming. Changes in mood may affect a person at certain times of the day only, and the people closest to the person experiencing these changes usually bear the brunt.

It is important to identify and seek medical counsel for mood swings as early as possible, so a doctor can diagnose any underlying conditions and recommend the appropriate treatment or course of action.

Medications can help in managing mood swings. In mild cases, slight alterations to one's lifestyle in terms of eating habits or thinking patterns can be useful too.

Read on to know the symptoms and causes of mood swings, and how it can be diagnosed and managed more effectively.

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Mood swings symptoms

The sudden changes in a person's emotional state can manifest differently in different people.

Some of the common signs of mood swings in people involve their general personality and behaviour, mostly around people they are most comfortable with, such as family and close friends. Rapid changes in mood can show up as a generally upbeat or positive person feeling low, angry, sad or irritable.

It is important to take note if you or a loved one experiences such changes in emotions more frequently or if there is a pattern in these occurrences. Some people may be able to identify certain triggering instances that led to a change in their mood such as external stress at work or from exams, but it is not necessary for mood swings to appear with a definitive cause. Some people may not even be able to recognise these changes to their own mood, being ignorant or unaware of these changes to their own mood.

Read more: How to deal with exam stress

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Mood swings causes

Mood swings can affect people with varying degrees of severity. Here are some of the common underlying factors associated with mood swings:

  • Hormonal conditions: In some cases, hormonal imbalance is the reason for sudden changes in mood. Pregnant women or women going through menopause may report frequent changes in their mood due to the physical changes in their bodies. (Read more: Pregnancy mood swings)
  • Diseases: Conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), thyroid problems, sleep disorders and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease are also associated with the high frequency of changes in mood.
  • Mental health conditions: Several mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and other forms of depression are also associated with increased instances of mood swings. A less severe form of bipolar disorder known as cyclothymia can also cause mood swings. Various personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD in children are also common causes of mood swings.
  • Substance abuse: Excessive drug use or alcoholism are also known to cause changes in a person's moods due to their addictive nature.
  • Reaction to medicines: Medications to treat certain illnesses are also known to cause changes in a person's mood and overall emotional state.

Mood swings are seen in two classes of mood disorders, namely depression and bipolar disorder. According to a study published in the Encyclopedia of Creativity, a non-fiction book, 40% of a control group displayed signs of cyclical mood swings in a mild state but had the same frequency of mood changes as the clinical group.

Changes in mood—albeit to a mild level—may also be linked to changes in the weather. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can affect some people in the winter months and others during summer. As mentioned earlier, certain triggering factors can also play a role in sudden changes in the mood of a person.

Diagnosis of mood swings

So many things affect our minds and moods daily—this is a normal part of life. However, frequent mood swings may be a cause for concern.

If these mood swings are due to identifiable stressors such as work, sleeping habits, medications or addictions, the person experiencing the mood changes may be able to articulate their symptoms in a better way.

A doctor would usually ask for the person's medical history and correlate for the above-mentioned factors or signs. However, the doctor can also advise the patient to go for therapy or counselling sessions to be able to understand their own patterns of thought in other cases. In some instances, a psychiatrist or psychologist may be able to identify the underlying symptoms and advise the right treatment method.

In some cases, the doctor may also require additional tests and scans to look for any changes in the brain function or to rule out certain kinds of illnesses that may be causing frequent mood swings. Medications may also be advised in the form of mood stabilizers, along with certain specific kinds of therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

Read more: Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for ADHD

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Mood swings treatment

In some cases, mood swings can be managed if the person having them becomes more mindful of the changes in their pattern of thinking or behaviour and of the things causing these changes. Stress at work, home, family pressures or anxiety regarding certain things can be identified and making subtle changes to your own lifestyle and patterns of work can help manage the mood swings. Additionally, making positive changes to your lifestyle can also help in controlling these frequent changes to one's mood.

Doctors and counsellors can help the patient understand their patterns and the causes behind their mood swings, and advise certain exercises to help them observe their thoughts and behaviour when faced with the causes that trigger their mood swings. As mentioned above, medications and certain kinds of therapy are beneficial in this regard as well.

One can even start making healthy changes to their own lifestyle to control their mood swings, such as making a greater effort to get good sleep, handling their relationships in a more positive manner, staying away from too much caffeine, eating healthier, avoiding drinking, smoking or the use of drugs. Learning to manage one's own stress and triggers can help ease their mood swings or help them make it milder.

Read more: Home remedies for stress

Following a healthier routine, drawing up a schedule the person can stick to and then sticking to it, are all helpful in making positive changes to the mind. The practice of yoga and meditation relieve stress and help control one's own mind, thereby becoming more aware of oneself. It is also important to speak to people about one's problems rather than bottling up one's emotions, as bottling feelings up is known to aggravate one's behaviour and negatively affect a person's mood.

Medicines for Mood swings

Medicines listed below are available for Mood swings. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.