You know those times where one minute you feel happy and in love with life and then a half hour later you feel like you could go a full ten rounds with the next person who crosses your path? Then you can understand a mood swing. It can be more technically defined as a noticeable change in emotional state. Some of these “changes in emotional state” are much more noticeable than others.
One example of a mood swing is when you wake up in a good mood, you go to work and within the first couple of hours at work you feel yourself getting angry with your co-workers, for no particular reason.
By lunch you are mad at the world. You take your lunch break, eat a relatively healthy meal, and by the time you return to work you are in a good mood again. This mood swing could easily be related to blood sugar levels.
How to Stop Mood Swings
Another example of a mood swing is when you wake up in a good mood, head to work and on the drive to work someone cuts you off in traffic. This sends you into an all-out rage and your anger ruins the rest of the day for you and your co-workers. You went from zero to sixty in no time and you have a hard time changing your mood back to positive. This latter example is of more concern than the first. This is the type of mood swing may need some form of treatment.
Types of disorders where mood swings are prevalent include attention deficit disorders, bipolar disorder, and borderline. Attention deficit disorders can begin in childhood and so can the mood swings. Children and adults experience feeling depressed and irritable and any stressful situation can cause you to feel overwhelmed.
Bipolar disorder involves many factors and needs close examination by a professional in order to see if this diagnosis fits your symptoms. Blood tests and brain imaging are also beneficial in diagnosing bipolar. If you notice you are having prolonged periods of depression that are followed by manic states, you should talk to a professional. There is a lot of help out there for bipolar and all disorders.
Borderline personality disorder is the one disorder where medication is not recommended due to a lack of benefits being shown. However, there are many other treatments available to help control the mood swings associated with bipolar.
You don’t have to have a diagnosis, however, to experience mood swings. There are other factors that can lead to mood swings such as stress, side effects of medications and menopause. There are many causes of mood swings. Some causes relate to chemical imbalances in the brain, hormone imbalances, anxiety, lack of sleep, substance abuse and mental fatigue.
Seek Professional Help
One of the most important things you can do to teach yourself how to prevent a mood swing or stabilize a mood swing is to get help from professionals who specialize in this area. Search for therapists who have expertise in the area of mood disorders.
Choose therapists who have years of experience or have a personal connection to mood disorders, with either themselves or with a family member. Sometimes the best counselors are the ones who have overcome the same difficulty as you. You want your therapist to be able to relate to your struggles so they can truly understand what you are going through.
Related: 4 Signs You Need A New Counselor
Counselors don’t hang their diagnoses on the sign with their name outside their door. They don’t often disclose that information to clients, either because of their thoughts on boundaries or because they just don’t want you to know. It won’t be that easy to find a counselor who shares your symptoms. However, you can find them by putting in a little effort. Attend support groups and ask the people in the group about their therapists to get a referral. Or, call different facilities and be honest, ask for a therapist who specializes in your symptoms.
Once you find a therapist, you will most likely engage in cognitive behavioral therapy which is basically talk therapy. You attend one hour sessions, once a week, and talk about your issues and develop solutions to your problems.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great way to overcome the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that tend to follow mood swings. A therapist can help you recognize signs of an oncoming mood swing and teach you ways to avoid a mood swing or lessen the severity of one.
Therapists may also encourage you to implement alternative techniques such as yoga, acupressure, or breathing exercises.
Be open-minded and give it a try because yoga has been proven over and over again to be a relaxing activity. There are many yoga poses that induce calm, relax the back and muscles, and teach you how to breathe properly so that all of your body parts are getting the oxygen needed. Take the beginner class where you will be among other beginners and not expected to touch your toes to your nose in the first session. Start slow and learn how to physically and mentally control your mood swings.
Acupressure balances the energy flow within the body. This can help with sleep, headaches, irritability and increases dopamine levels in the brain. Don’t just think of it as someone sticking needles in your various body spots. Think of it as one step closer to taking control over your mood swings.
Deep breathing can literally change the structure of your brain. Inhaling and exhaling slowly and for extended periods can reduce the brain from beta waves to alpha, which is a much more relaxed state of mind. The great thing about this exercise is that it can be done anywhere and with few people knowing what you are doing. You can even deep breathe as a preventative measure to stressful situations. Practice this technique before work, before you drive, before you meet with your ex, you know where I’m going with this. Doing everything you can to prevent a mood swing will only enhance your day and your life.
You Feel What You Eat
There is a lot of research supporting the idea that food influences your mood and the other way around, your mood influences eating habits. We have all had those moments where we feel super stressed and before we know it we have opened the chocolate chip cookie bag and a whole row has disappeared. You look around the room to see who else could have eaten those cookies but you are the only one in the room. Then the guilt sets in.
Food can be addictive, especially sugary foods, because they temporarily make us feel better, especially when we don’t take the time to figure out the source of our emotions. Just like smokers go for a smoke break, and drinkers pour themselves a shot of whiskey, others grab a donut or chocolate or both depending on the day.
All give a similar boost in the brain that gives you the ability to make it through the rest of your day. Wouldn’t it be great to not need the sugary foods to feel better? It can happen for you just by learning how the chemicals in your brain work and how foods affect those chemicals.
There are several chemicals in the brain affected by the foods you eat. Eating the right foods will help these chemicals thrive. Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine are the main chemicals affected.
Foods that are good for serotonin include eggs, nuts, cheese and salmon. Turkey is also good. It is tryptophan that is found in all of these foods that aids in serotonin production. These same foods, as well as chicken, beans, yogurt, cottage cheese and soy products can provide the brain with healthy norepinephrine levels.
Dr. Oz has provided a video and report on a dopamine diet that offers a healthy balance between brain and food. If we don’t have a healthy balance, our brain will demonstrate addictive traits. If we receive too little dopamine chemicals then we are left with cravings. The right foods can give us that balance where we are not craving or addicted.
There truly is a food-mood connection. When our negative emotions are involved in eating, we can become mindless about what we are putting into our mouths and why? Most people eat to provide the body nutrients it needs to survive. When you are stressed, you don’t care about nutrients, you care about kicking up your brain chemicals that tell you it will be okay. Food can do that, temporarily.
Take Your Meds
Prescription medicines aren’t for everyone but they have proven to help people who are suffering from mood swings. Most people with severe mood swings are willing to give medicines a try, especially when they have tried everything else to overcome this issue on their own. Before taking any medicine, it is important to know exactly what you are taking and why that is the best medicine fit for you.
Mood stabilizers are commonly prescribed to help in controlling mood swings. While there are cautions to pay attention to when taking medications, they can be very beneficial if used as prescribed and under a doctor’s care.
Mood stabilizers are defined as being able to have both anti-manic and anti-depressant qualities. One common mood stabilizer is lithium and another is Depakote. They provide that balance in the brain that can reduce the intensity and numbers of mood swings. While these medicines work very well, some clients claim they do not like taking their medicines.
If you aren’t interested in using a prescription to treat your mood swings then you may want to supplement with vitamins. There are many vitamins connected to boosting mood and aiding in your brain being healthy. Chromium, for example, is known as a mood regulator in the brain. Folate supports serotonin in the brain and has also been known to enhance the effects of anti-depressants. Vitamin D, iron, and magnesium are a few other vitamins that can help treat mood swings.
Other natural mood stabilizers include ginseng, lavender, St. John’s Wart, and passion flower. These are just a few natural methods of the long list that can be beneficial.
I know what you’re thinking; you don’t have time for a hobby. Well, make time. You don’t have to call it a hobby if you don’t want to. Call it a second job, an assignment, or something more fitting to you so that you can feel better about taking the time you need to improve your mental health.
Having a hobby can totally reduce your stress and increase creativity. Hobbies can calm the mind and can be extremely relaxing.
Beneficial hobbies include listening to music, art, gardening and photography.
Gardening has been scientifically proven to lift mood. Maybe it is that connection with the earth that makes people feel better.
Music, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, has been found to have many psychological functions and can truly your mood, both negatively and positively.
Creating art of any kind has numerous positive effects on mood. It creates a sense of purpose and accomplishment once completed. Art can also offer a time of self-reflection and it gives you a chance to put your feelings on paper. Meaning, you can express what is bothering you on the canvas of your choice.
Photographs trigger emotions. You view a picture of you and your friends at the beach having a great time and that triggers a smile and probably a few laughs. Taking your own pictures can have a similar effect, especially if you are seeking out positive scenery or objects to photograph.
Mood swings can be devastating for you and for the ones who love you. You deserve a life free of mood swings, one with healthy brain chemicals that balance your emotions. This is very achievable. Seek professional help to discuss all of your options. A good therapist can start you on your path to a happy life with many happy and healthy relationships. If you find yourself experiencing mood swings, or if your family members or friends are telling you that your mood swings are bothering them, then you know you have a problem. The good news is that this problem has many solutions. Start today finding the right solution for you.