Are my mood swings normal?

Avatar for Mish Khot By in counselling, counsellors, psychologist, psychology, psychotherapy on 06/11/2020
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You might know intuitively when you are ‘in a mood’ and what a mood means in the first place. But do you know how to describe it? A mood is a part of your emotional rhythm but is considered less powerful than an emotion. It can usually be attributed to specific causes. Mood swings are a part of your emotional rhythm but what causes them, and why are they so erratic sometimes?

mood swings

In this article, we’ll delve into the causes of mood swings meaning the psychological and lifestyle factors that trigger your changing mood.

What are mood swings?

A mood may be something you are aiming towards, like calmness or happiness, or it may be something you cannot control. A mood may last for a while or have a short life span. Moods are a natural part of the human experience and we are all likely to have different moods in the course of a day.

These swings are normal and quite healthy. Our moods are useful to us because they determine how we behave and think. Negative moods are also a necessity because they highlight issues and problems that need to be tackled.

However when it feels like you are on a rollercoaster of emotions, sometimes up and sometimes down, you are experiencing mood swings. If your daily life is negatively affected by your mood swings meaning if you are unable to manage your work, family and personal life, you should speak to a professional.

When it comes to emotions and feelings, understanding the mood swings meaning is of paramount importance so you can work out the trigger and find a way to manage them.

What are the medical options available?

In most cases, unusual changes in mood resolve quickly on their own and do not require any form of medical intervention. However if you feel that your low moods occur with unnerving frequency or seem overwhelming, you should talk to your medical practitioner or consult a registered counsellor.  

medical help for mood disorder

An expert may prescribe mental health therapies or treatments to help you regain control over your emotions and moods. Some therapies may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which helps you reframe your perceptions and thoughts about life events in a positive manner
  • Mindfulness which involves developing an awareness of your thoughts, environment, emotions and body to accept all that comes your way with calm and composure
  • Alternative forms of medicine like St John’s Wort known to be effective for low moods
  • Modern medication when other forms of treatment are not proving effective

Why do I have mood swings?

Emotions are a complex phenomenon, which makes it hard to understand them and to understand mood swings meaning.

There are three factors believed to be important when it comes to understanding what affects your mood: biology, psychology and the environment.

Some of the most common triggers are:

  • Withdrawal from any kind of addictive substance including caffeine
  • Dehydration
  • Hunger
  • Stress, anxiety
  • Mental health disorders such as ADHD, depression and bipolar disorder
  • Less sleep or being overworked
  • Toxic and unhealthy body
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • Interactions with your environment or others around you
  • Lack of exercise
  • Mental or physical fatigue or being in need of a break
  • Hormonal changes that take place during periods, puberty and pregnancy
  • Weather
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Physical illness or chronic pain

What does it mean when my child has mood swings?

The ages between 9 to 15 years are a time of massive changes for a child. Their bodies are growing and changing, their brains are undergoing major changes and adjusting to the flood of hormones, and their emotional and intellectual resilience is developing.

mood swings in teens

Research has shown that for preteens or young teens, the part of the brain responsible for making decisions and controlling impulses develops last. During this time, the brain uses a different part to make decisions – the amygdala. The amygdala is where emotions are processed into memories and associations. This part of the brain is also where the fight-or-flight response begins.

When you understand the significance of this, you see why tweens and teens are prone to mood swings and emotions beyond their control. They are quite likely to experience some or all of the following:

  • Intense emotions
  • Moods that change randomly and frequently
  • New strong emotions that they have never experienced before
  • Feeling confusion, anger or sadness for no apparent reason
  • Feeling either too sensitive or nothing at all

Changes in mood are not always due to physiological changes. If your child is displaying erratic moods, they could be experiencing one or some of these factors:

  • Hormones
  • Not enough sleep
  • Peer pressure
  • Not knowing how to process unusual feelings
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Conflict in school or with family
  • Physical changes

You can help your child cope by helping them understand mood swings meaning and causes, while encouraging them to:

  • Take good care of their health
  • Play or listen to music and dance if they feel like it
  • Ensure 9-10 hours of sleep
  • Be active
  • Keep a journal
  • Engage in creative activities
  • Openly communicate with family about prevalent issues

Does it mean I have a mood disorder?

A mood disorder is a mental health condition in which changes in mood are disruptive and affect the daily functioning of your life. The symptoms of mood disorders are:

  • Mood fluctuations that last for more than two weeks
  • Feeling low most of the time
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Hiding real feelings from loved ones

There are three primary types of mood disorders, each of which involves their specialized form of treatment:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depressive disorders which includes depression, seasonal affective disorder and postnatal depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder  marked by excessive worry that is difficult to manage

Mood disorders are a serious mental health condition and should be taken seriously. Seek mental health care if you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder.

mood disorder or mood swings

Mood swings due to menopause

Menopause can cause women to experience dramatic changes in mood. As a woman enters this phase, hormone levels begin to fluctuate drastically and can cause the following symptoms:

Mood swings are often the most common symptoms in menopausal woman. A woman may experience abrupt or quick changes in mood as a result of changing levels of hormones. If you think you may be pre-menopausal or menopausal, talk to your medical practitioner about what to expect and how to handle the symptoms.

Can I manage mood swings at home?

The key to managing rollercoaster moods is to be aware of and understand your mood. This helps you keep your emotions under check and feel better faster. It also allows you to take charge of your mental health by actively managing your lifestyle choices and avoiding identified trigger points of a negative mood.

The best way to do this is to be alert to mood fluctuations, particularly the wild swings from dizzying highs to depressing lows, and identify the triggers. As you identify your moods and triggers, try these productive and positive ways to manage them more effectively:

  • Socialize with family and friends
  • Develop hobbies that you can do on your own or with others
  • Volunteer your time to help out others
  • Take good care of your health by exercising and eating a balanced diet
  • Give yourself a challenge: learning new skills or running a marathon
  • Adapt mindfulness to better manage stress and anxiety
  • Ensure you are well rested and hydrated everyday
  • Take breaks throughout the day and plan vacations every now and then
  • Never hesitate to reach out for help
get help for mood swings

When it comes to emotions and feelings, you should know that not every change in mood means that you’re experiencing mood swings. Moods are a part of your emotional rhythm and it is normal to feel moody at times. There are also a number of things that can affect your mood for a while, and not all of them are in your control. It is healthy to have bad moods in reaction to negative emotions so don’t worry about that.

In addition, if you are going through an unusually stressful time, have experienced a deep grief or trauma, or are going through a major life change, it is normal for you to be moody for some time.

It is only when your mood is erratic and disruptive for extended periods of time or impact your daily life that you should seek help from medical professionals.

Avatar for Mish Khot

Mishana Khot is a fiction author and co-founder of The Great Next, an adventure travel company. She has been featured in National Geographic, Forbes magazine, and other publications, and has over 15 years of experience with health, travel, and lifestyle brands.

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