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What Is the Connection between Anxiety and Mood Swings?

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  • Written By: Debra Barnhart
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Feelings of anxiety and mood swings are related because, according to experts, anxiety that often burns on the fuel of the mind’s imagination can contribute to bad moods, especially if a person is tired. Lasting for a period of time and having a physiological component, moods are underlying feelings that are less intense than emotions. The interplay between chronic anxiety and mood swings can create a negative cycle that impacts mental well-being, so it is important to analyze ingrained thought patterns that affect anxiety and moods.

Unlike the powerful emotion fear, which is a response to a real threat like a job loss or physical assault, anxiety is not always strictly tied to real life experiences. Anxiety often results from negative thought patterns related to future, illusory events. Persons suffering from chronic anxiety obsessively over-anticipate problems and imagine the worst outcomes for an event. Over time unbridled negative thoughts and anxiety wear the body down, and a combination of fatigue and tension can result in negative moods and mood swings.

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Based in part on the body’s biological rhythms, moods like anxiety are often non-specific and may not be based on actual experiences. For instance, because most people have higher energy levels in the morning, they are more likely to be in an optimistic mood and have a more confident outlook when considering a challenging problem. The same problem might be seen in a more pessimistic light later in the day when a person’s natural body rhythms are winding down and tiredness sets in.

The connection between anxiety and moods can be viewed as a, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” cycle. Feelings of continuing or overwhelming worry can be fatiguing and may contribute to bad moods. Of course, negative moods may contribute to tiredness or sleep problems and generate even more anxiety.

Some experts feel that the way to get out of the anxiety and mood trap is to develop healthy thought or cognitive patterns. They believe that all feelings are the results of thoughts and how we people the world. Many times, these thought patterns have limited basis in reality. Understanding the connection between anxiety and mood swings as well as how negative thoughts can lead to unnecessary tension and even depression, can be the first step, according to some experts, in controlling negative moods.

Getting proper rest is also key to overcoming chronic anxiety and mood swings. Sleep deprivation can result in emotional irritability as well as poor concentration and a compromised immune system. Avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine, especially later in the day, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation can also be a help in getting a good night's rest.

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