Mood Swings & Mental Health

Pictures of faces on clips representing mood swings

We have all had bad days that catch us off guard. One moment, you are excited for the day, and the next, you are irritable and would like to retreat and disconnect from the rest of the world. Many times, the trigger is obvious, such as receiving a bad score on an exam or feeling overwhelmed by current events.

Mood swings, on the other hand, can feel a bit more unstable. These shifts in mood can occur more frequently and sporadically than the occasional “bad day.”

With mood swings, shifts in demeanor will most often be noticed by the people surrounding the individual, such as family, friends, and coworkers. The individual, on the other hand, may experience feelings of irritability coupled with confusion as to why things “keep going wrong.”

When it comes to mental health, mood swings can come about for a variety of reasons, including life changes, stressors, and more.

If you or a loved one is struggling with shifts in mood, the following article can provide insight into mood swings and mental health.

Symptoms of Mood Swings Associated with Mental Health Disorders

A mood swing is a temporary shift in mood that may display the following characteristics:

  • Increased anxiety and nervousness
  • Feelings of sadness and/or frustration
  • Heightened irritability

Additionally, shifts in mood aren’t always negative at first glance; a mood swing can also include unusually heightened feelings of excitement or increased energy.

Mental health conditions that are often associated with prolonged mood swings include:

  • Bipolar 1 Disorder
  • Bipolar 2 Disorder
  • PTSD

In Bipolar 1 Disorder, mood swings fluctuate between a week to two weeks at a time. Individuals living with bipolar 1 typically experience heightened feelings of excitement and energy in a state called “mania,” often associated with risky behavior and loss of sleep. This state is normally followed by a week to two weeks of prolonged feelings of fatigue, sadness, and low energy.

In Bipolar 2 Disorder, individuals do not fluctuate between the two extremes in mood but rather experience heightened depressive episodes that can last anywhere from a day to several days. This constant state is associated with feelings of irritability, sadness, and hopelessness.

In PTSD, an individual may be taken off guard by an identifiable or non-identifiable trigger. This can bring feelings of heightened irritability, reactivity, and general unrest.

In severe cases, all disorders have one thing in common: major changes in daily life. These changes can make even the simplest tasks seem overwhelming and remove the excitement from life. Additionally, changes such as weight gain or loss, sleep deprivation, and social withdrawal also typically occur.

Potential Causes of Mood Swings

It is important to note that not all mood swings signify a mental health disorder. An official diagnosis from a licensed psychologist and psychiatrist is the only way to confirm a mental health disorder officially.

Other causes of mood swings that are not associated with immediate triggers can include the following:

  • Changes in living status
  • Financial stressors
  • Hormonal changes
  • Pregnancy
  • Financial changes
  • Health concerns
  • Family instability
  • Medications
  • Relationship conflicts

And more

Ways to Cope

If you or a loved one is living with mood swings, know that you don’t have to manage them alone. Studies have shown that individuals who seek therapy experience improved symptoms when working with a certified mental health professional, along with a suitable treatment plan.