What Causes Mood Swings?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2019
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Mood swings can be caused by a number of different things, including mental disorders, stress and anxiety, hormonal changes, or even the type of diet that a person follows. Mental illnesses such as depression or bipolar disorder, among others, are common causes of mood swings; however, other illnesses such as thyroid disorders can also cause mood changes and irritability. Persistent stress at home or at the workplace can also cause changes to one's mood. Following a poor diet with high levels of sugar, caffeine, or saturated fats may also cause depression and mood issues, often due to spikes in blood sugar and poor nutrition.

For some people, mood swings can be fairly common. If they do start to occur more regularly, it is beneficial to attempt to examine when the moods occur, and if a pattern can be identified. This can help to prevent the causes of the moods, if possible, or can indicate if it is something that should be addressed by a doctor or psychologist. If the moodiness starts to interfere with daily life, or make it difficult to function at work, school, or in relationships, it is something that needs to be addressed. An underlying medical cause could be the culprit, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or a even a hormonal imbalance; medication may be quite effective in treating these cases.


Women will also sometimes experience mood swings as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or during pre-menopause or menopause. Some find that watching the diet and getting additional exercise can help to curb these moods, as well as help to reduce stress, anxiety, or irritability. Others simply experience this each month, since PMS is more severe for some women than others. Birth control pills can help to regulate the cycle and mitigate some of the symptoms of PMS or PMDD, which is more severe and can also interfere with daily life.

Occasionally, something as simple as poor diet, lack of exercise, or not getting enough sleep can be a cause of moodiness. Diets high in sugar, fats, or simple carbohydrates often cause frequent spikes and dips in blood sugar levels in the body, which can quickly cause mood swings. Getting less than six to eight hours of sleep a night is also detrimental to overall mood and energy level. In addition, regular exercise helps to release endorphins in the brain, which can help to boost and stabilize the mood for hours.


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