Understanding Mood Swings and What Causes Them

It’s easy to dismiss mood swings as normal changes in behavior. We all tend to have ups and downs throughout our daily lives. But, these sudden and powerful shifts in mood aren’t what the average person goes through in any given situation.

You could experience mood swings regularly, and place the ‘blame’ on something else or think it’s perfectly normal. However, these changes can start to affect your life in many ways. From changes in your sleep and appetite to social habits or a lack of concentration/motivation, mood swings aren’t just subtle changes in behavior.

So, what causes these dramatic shifts in some people? The more you understand about potential causes of mood swings, the easier they can be to identify. If you’ve found that one or more of the symptoms listed above have started to negatively impact your life, it could be time to seek out help. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes, so you can see if they relate to you in any way.

Mental Health Conditions

Multiple mental health conditions are often linked with mood swings. If you have ever been diagnosed or have symptoms of any of the following, you may also be more prone to experiencing these shifts in how you feel or act:

Depression
Bipolar disorder
ADHD
Schizophrenia

Mood swings associated with mental health conditions are often called ‘mood disorders.’ They can even occur in children (and are often misdiagnosed).

Everyday Triggers

Some people experience mood swings due to triggers in their everyday lives. There still may be an underlying mental health or medical condition associated with these triggers, but it’s important to understand the things that might make you feel a shift in your mood suddenly. Common triggers include things like stress, certain medications, or even a sudden and significant life change.
Being aware of your own triggers can help you realize the impact of your mood swings even more. It’s not always easy to recognize them at first, but if something seems to consistently cause your behavioral shifts, it’s worth taking note.

Hormonal Factors

Hormones can play a big part in mood changes. There are, of course, old stereotypes about pregnant women and mood swings, but there is actually some truth to it! Pregnant women, teenagers, and even menopausal women can all experience sudden mood swings based on hormonal changes occurring in the body.

When to Seek Out Help

There are, of course, other factors that can come into play with mood swings. Everyone is different. The connecting key is that mood swings can start to wreak havoc on your life if they aren’t properly treated. In some cases, they can be managed through things like lifestyle changes. You might notice a difference by simply keeping a schedule, getting more sleep, adopting a better diet or better sleeping habits.

However, there are many times where medical treatment may be needed. Letting mood swings start to take over can make you feel as though your life is completely off balance. Talking with a doctor can help you to pin down the underlying cause(s) of the way you’re feeling, so you can work on getting through everything in a healthy way.

If you regularly experience the symptoms suggested at the beginning of this article, and feel as though you can relate to one or more of the potential causes, we can help. Together, we’ll help to restore the balance your life deserves.

Dr. Takos is a Newport Beach Psychologist specializing in the treatment of adolescents and adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders.