There’s one thing we all can agree on: we all have bad days when we wake up “on the wrong side of the bed.” Sometimes, we simply feel sad or have a burst of happiness for no reason. In general, as long as our daily life is not impacted by mood swings, they are quite healthy. However, how do we know when it’s time to opt for therapy and professional help?
Mood Swings: Definition
Mood swings are defined as rapid changes in the way you feel for no obvious reason. For instance, if your effort is recognized at work, it’s normal to feel happy and proud because of this. If you are involved in an accident, it’s normal to feel down because of it.
However, mood swings can be triggered by other small factors, or there may be no obvious factor at all. One may simply wake up happy and in a good mood, and half an hour later they might feel stressed, anxious, or sad.
Mood swings should raise concerns when they happen very quickly, such as going from a good mood to a bad one and back within a short time, for no obvious reason. In this case, it’s important to contact a mental health professional and seek help.
Why Am I So Moody?
In many cases, major mood swings are a symptom of mental health problems. There are several disorders that may impact one’s mood:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression)
- Dysthymia (a chronic type of depression)
- Cyclothymic disorder (symptoms similar to bipolar disorder, but milder)
Mental health issues aside, your mood swings may also be caused by other factors, as well. Some of the most important ones are hormonal changes and substance use.
Can Birth Control Cause Mood Swings?
Unfortunately, many types of birth control pills, known as oral contraceptives, can lead to significant mood swings. Some women, especially those with a history of depression, may be at a higher risk of severe mood swings when taking these pills. However, it’s important to note that the majority of women tolerate oral contraceptives well, so there are slim chances of your OCs causing major mood swings.
Mood Swings and Pregnancy
Mood swings during pregnancy are extremely common because one of the main reasons behind mood swings is hormonal imbalance. As our body changes during pregnancy, hormone levels fluctuate too. For instance, estrogen levels are 100 times higher than usual during the first three months of your pregnancy. Besides, the discomfort you may experience during your pregnancy can also cause mood swings.
If you experience morning sickness and nausea, you are likely to start feeling anxious in certain situations. You may be stuck in a traffic jam, at a grocery store, or at work, sense the smell of food, and get horrified knowing that this will make you feel sick. This stressful situation can impact your mood. Besides, during early pregnancy, it’s normal to feel more tired than usual, which is likely to make you moody, as well.
During your second and third trimester, there are still many triggers for mood swings. For instance, you may not be excited about the changes in your body, prenatal tests, or reading books about birth complications.
All these things can cause stress and anxiety, and make you worry more than usual. In addition, the third semester means that you may not rest well at night so you may start worrying about delivering your baby. Besides, many women experience postpartum depression, which can also have a significant impact on their mood.
Menopause Mood Swings
Menopause directly affects your mood because of the drops in hormones, including progesterone and estrogen. Symptoms like excessive sweating during the night may also make you feel more tired than usual and therefore moodier than usual. However, if caused by menopause, mood swings might not be that severe. Still, they might be worsened by other factors that impact you at the same time, such as aging parents or children leaving home.
The use of different drugs and alcohol can also lead to mood swings. Apart from certain medications that may also have this side effect, the use of alcohol or psychoactive substances can lead to mood swings, especially when the consumption is repetitive. In these cases, mood swings are also a symptom of addiction, and they may be caused by the changes in brain chemistry caused by such substances.
How to Deal with Mood Swings
If you experience frequent mood swings, you should avoid common triggers that can make it worse. For instance, dealing with stress can heavily impact your mood, along with major changes in your life (such as changing your career, losing someone you love, etc.). Your diet and sleep also impact your well-being and how happy you feel, so keeping a healthy lifestyle and sleeping habits is important to prevent mood swings. Finally, if you are taking some medications, keep in mind that these may impact the severity of your mood swings.
To manage your mood swings, there are a few things you can do:
- Get enough sleep, as the lack of sleep can make you feel tired and moody;
- Exercise frequently because physical activity positively impacts health in different ways;
- Stick with a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables;
- Lower your stress levels by practicing yoga or other relaxation techniques;
- Talk to someone when you feel down or sad.
If you are pregnant and experience mood swings, there are a few things you can focus on:
- Talk to your partner, friends, family, anyone close to you about your worries;
- Avoid pregnancy books that might make you worry excessively;
- Make sure that you get enough rest;
- If you are very worried about birthing the child, ask for help (or hire a doula);
- Talk to other moms;
- Use relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation).
Finally, if your mood swings impact the quality of your life, the best solution is to talk to a licensed therapist. While people with busy schedules may not have enough time to commute to a therapist’s office, everyone can benefit from online therapy platforms like Calmerry, which offer a much more flexible solution to mental health problems. You can learn more about online therapy to prepare for your first session.
Not all mood swings are the same. Sometimes, extreme mood swings may be caused by underlying mental health issues. In many other cases, mood swings are a natural part of our lives. We can deal with them by developing healthy habits, getting enough sleep, and staying positive. If you experience severe mood swings that affect your daily life, make sure to talk to a therapist, because major mood swings can be symptoms of various mental health problems.