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Mood Swings: Causes And Coping Mechanisms

An image of a sad womanWe all have our ups and downs. We also know the feelings of deep sadness that come with the passing of a loved one, while also experiencing great joy with the birth of a child. These highs and lows are a natural part of life. However, suffering from constant mood swings is not. Constantly changing moods may point towards several possible health issues.

Differences in mood start in the brain and have to do with your brain’s hormone balance. Various factors may come into play, however. If you find that your behavior has become unpredictable, with you being happy one moment, and sad and despondent or even grumpy the next, you should consider the possibility of talking to a healthcare professional. In so doing, you could find the root cause of your mood swings and do something about it.

The Major Causes Of Mood Swings

There are several health conditions, medications, and other issues that could cause mood swings. We will take a look at the most common causes. Please remember that, in many instances, mood swings are a symptom of another underlying issue and not necessarily itself a health issue.

Substance Use

Certain substances like drugs or alcohol could lead to mood swings. This is especially true if you become addicted to them. You could also develop an addiction to certain medications.

When denied the substances causing these addictions, users tend to suffer from mood swings. In many cases, the substances themselves cause erratic behavior and mood swings in users.

If you are hooked on any substance, please go see a healthcare professional who may direct you towards a program to assist you in quitting your addiction and coping with withdrawal.


Certain prescription medications may affect your mood when suffering from depression. But this is what they are supposed to do. They are supposed to direct you away from the dark thoughts and feelings associated with the condition.

Some medications, however, that have nothing to do with addressing depression, may also cause mood disorders.

If suffering from a health condition that has nothing to do with depression or a related condition and you notice you suffer from mood swings, your medication could be the cause. In such cases, please talk to your healthcare practitioner. A different medication or change in dosage may work for you.

Mental Health Issues

Several mental health issues may cause mood swings. These include, amongst others:

Bipolar disorder.

The cause of a bipolar disorder is still a mystery, although it is believed to result from a combination of factors. These include your environment, your genes, brain chemistry, and brain structure. People with this condition may experience mood swings that include periods of bad depression to periods where they experience a manic high.

You get two types of bipolar disorder, i.e. you are either classified as bipolar 1 or bipolar 2. Both see periods of deep depression alternating with periods of mania. Some people may even have mixed episodes where they have both depression and mania at the same time.

You may experience these symptoms while in the depressive state:

  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Worthlessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Unable to focus
  • Sleep a lot or have difficulty sleeping
  • Eat more than usual
  • Eat less than usual
  • Think about death or committing suicide

You may experience these symptoms while in the manic state:

  • Feel very energetic
  • Talk a lot
  • Talk very fast
  • Feel irritable
  • Don’t feel the need for sleep
  • Focused or goal orientated
  • Easily distracted

The difference between the two bipolar disorders lies in the intensity and extent of their manic periods. In those with bipolar 2, the severity is less.

Cyclothymic disorder.

People suffering from the cyclothymic disorder have similar symptoms to those with bipolar 2. However, the mood swings seem less severe. Although the symptoms are less severe, getting the necessary help in time may help ease the situation and decrease your risk of developing a bipolar disorder.

Major depressive disorder.

Major depressive disorder, also referred to as clinical depression, sees you have a long-term negative mood swing. The symptoms associated with this type of mood swing includes all those included during a bipolar depressive state.

Borderline personality disorder.

The mood swings associated with this disorder could last for a few hours to a few days. Symptoms include the following:

An image of a woman's face fading in-between moods

  • Extreme reactions to real or imagined abandonment
  • Impulsiveness and a tendency to take reckless risks
  • Uncontrolled anger issues
  • Feeling restless
  • Shows self-harming tendencies that could include suicide attempts
  • Feeling empty inside
  • Showing signs of dissociation from the present

Hormone Issues

You can trace many issues relating to mood swings back to a hormone imbalance in your brain. This is because hormones have a resounding effect on your brain chemistry and even play a part in your body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response and physiological function. Serotonin and dopamine are two neurotransmitters that affect your feelings of happiness. An imbalance in these hormones may result in negative feelings and depression. Those with adrenal fatigue might also find themselves have more mood swings due to an imbalance in their hormone levels.

When your hormone production becomes negatively affected due to whatever reason, e.g. stress, injury, childbirth, or menopause, mood swings may result.

Other Issues That May Impact Mood Swings

Countries that have long periods of darkness during winter months tend to see an increase in depression and other mood-related disorders during these times. This may be due to a lack of vitamin D from the sun that plays a role in hormone productions.

Another issue to look at is your lifestyle and diet. Exercise helps with hormone production. Your ‘feel good’ hormones, in particular, increase with exercise, while a balanced diet gives your body the essential vitamins and minerals needed not only for optimal function but for hormone production as well.

Stress, on the other hand, can be related to both psychological and physiological issues. Injuries sustained in an accident, for example, may disrupt hormone production on the one hand due to the impact on your body from this physiological stress, while the mental stress experienced could also cause hormonal disruption. If your stress is work-related or due to other such issues, finding ways to cope may be a solution.

Coping With Mood Swings

Coping with mood swings may have a many-thronged approach. The key to coping is finding your triggers. Please note each person is different, so what may trigger a mood swing in one person does not necessarily do so in another. For example, which medications do you use? Do you follow a balanced diet? Do you get enough sleep? Are you under a lot of stress?

If your mood swings result from a psychological condition, certain medications may help alleviate your symptoms. You could also consider using the many different supplements available that help to balance hormones or that have relaxing properties that may help with stress. You could also consider learning one of the many stress management techniques available like meditation or deep breathing exercises. Learning to relax will also benefit your adrenal fatigue and hormone and neurotransmitter levels.

Another thing to look at is your sleeping habits. Do you get enough sleep at night? Your body needs this time to recuperate so that all systems function correctly, including the production of hormones.

If you suspect your medications are the cause of your mood swings, please talk to your healthcare practitioner about this so that they can identify whether this is the case and make the necessary adjustments.

Mood Swing Coping Habits To Cultivate

You may help yourself better cope with mood swings if you cultivate some of the following habits:

  • Create a routine.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Try to get eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet that radically cuts down on sugar and high-carbohydrate foods.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Express yourself creatively by writing, painting, or gardening, etc.
  • Try, as far as possible, to avoid stressful situations.
  • Don’t keep quiet, talk to someone.
  • Consider keeping a journal in which you jot down your thoughts and experiences and try to find out why your mood is as it is.


If you are suffering from mood swings, here are a few things you can do to alleviate the situation.

An image of a woman doing yoga

  1. Seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner in determining the cause of your issue.
  2. Explore the use of natural supplements that help with hormonal balance and anxiety-related issues.
  3. Take a look at your lifestyle and diet and make the necessary adjustments that ensure you get enough exercise while following a healthy, balanced diet.

Everyone has a range of emotions that they go through. This is perfectly normal. However, constant mood swings may have another underlying cause. Do what is necessary to find out the cause of your mood swings and take proactive measures to deal with them before they escalate in severity.

If you would like to know more about or need assistance with mood swings, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1 (626) 571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor System by clicking here.

© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam's Key Question

Mood swings may very well be one of the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. This is because a hormonal imbalance, which is common in adrenal fatigue sufferers, may cause depression and other related health issues. Hormone and adrenal support may help alleviate the symptoms associated with mood swings.

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