Mood swings are rapid and often extreme fluctuations in one’s emotions. It typically involves alternating between feeling happy in one moment and angry or sad the next.
One of the most common causes of regular mood swings is an imbalance in the brain chemicals responsible for mood regulation. This is the case for bipolar disorder. Another common cause for mood swings is related to the hormonal changes that occur with female menstrual cycles and menopause. With men, mood swings are common with those who abuse steroids (often referred to as ‘roid rage).
People suffering from depression may also experience mood swings. Depression that is left untreated for an extended period of time may lead to feelings of irritability, sadness and even outright anger. The longer depression stays in one’s life, the more frequently these negative feelings will occur.
It’s normal to experience mood changes every now and then, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your life. However, if you have serious and frequent mood swings, you should consult with your doctor for possible causes and solutions. You may be suffering from depression, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. For most people, it only occurs once in a lifetime. If you are currently struggling with depression, here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty and worthless
- Experiencing sleep irregularities, such as insomnia
- Eating too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoyed, such as sex, exercise, or other hobbies
- Feeling easily tired and fatigued
- Slowed thinking and speaking
- Having difficulty concentrating, remembering things and making decisions
- Unexplained physical issues, such as migraines or back pains
- Feeling worthless or even suicidal
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Extreme mood swings are classic symptoms of bipolar disorder, characterized by episodes of hypomania (emotional highs), depression (emotional lows), or a mix of both. There are two main types of bipolar disorders: Bipolar I and Bipolar II.
Bipolar I is diagnosed when the patient has had at least one manic episode. A manic episode is a period of abnormally high energy or mood, accompanied by episodes of hypomania or depression. Patients diagnosed with bipolar I may also have had depressive or hypomanic episodes.
Bipolar II is diagnosed when the patient has had at least one depressive episode lasting 2 weeks or more and one hypomanic episode that lasted at least 4 days. However, patients with bipolar II has never experienced a manic episode.
Symptoms of a manic episode include:
- Talking more and faster than usual
- Feeling energetic
- Engaging in uncharacteristically risky behaviour
- Being on edge or irritable
- Sleeping less than normal
- Being more active than usual
A depressive episode includes symptoms such as:
- Feeling sad or worthless
- Crying frequently
- Lacking energy
- Feeling wiped out and fatigued
- Having trouble concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Eating either too much or not enough
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Losing pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
A borderline personality disorder (BPD) can also be instigating your persistent mood swings. It is a mental disorder that usually begins in early adulthood, and may gradually improve with age. BPD includes self-image issues, difficulties managing emotions, and a pattern of unstable relationships. Other symptoms may include:
- Intense and varying mood swings that can last from a few hours to a few days.
- Impulsive and risky behavior (i.e. impaired driving or substance abuse).
- Extreme reactions to abandonment or perceived abandonment (i.e. depression, rage or panic).
- Feelings of emptiness or restlessness.
- Contemplating suicide or engaging in self-harming behaviors like cutting.
- Having sudden and intense relationships that you won’t normally find yourself in.
- Anger issues such as outbursts, inappropriate anger and uncontrollable temper tantrums.
- Having dissociative symptoms. For example, feeling like you’ve lost time, forgot certain memories, or gone outside of your own body.
Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements Used to Enhance Mood
If you’re looking for natural supplements to enhance your mood, there are plenty of options. However, if you suffer from severe mood problems (like suicidal thoughts or self-harm) you should consider seeing a doctor first before reaching for mood enhancers or supplements.
St. John’s Wort is known as one of the most beneficial herbs for mood. The supplement is a yellow-flowered plant containing many chemical compounds that may have medicinal effects.
“Even though the evidence is mixed, it’s better for St. John’s wort than for other herbs,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD and associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Other potential mood enhancers include:
- Valerian root
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
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