While it is quite legitimate to experience some variations in emotions, one says one is having mood swings when he or she faces rapid and intensely fluctuating emotions.
It can become quite a see-saw or rollercoaster-like journey, emotionally. The feelings can range from contentment or happiness to anger, irritability, depression, frustration or even hopelessness.
Sometimes there are quite apparent triggers, at other times though one can’t pinpoint an exact cause for the shift in mood. It could be an unpleasant showdown in office, a spat with a friend or relative, a road-rage incident, monetary loss, unhappiness over the progression of career or simply nothing apparent or palpable that caused the shift in tour disposition.
One may go through such changes in mood over the course of a day or even within a couple of hours.
For example, you may be quite irritable in the morning at the office someday, but as the tea-time approaches, you forget that you were grumpy in the morning.
How to handle the mood swings is no rocket-science. If you can figure out what is it that is triggering it or the cause of your mood swing, you can determinedly try to pull yourself out of it.
How to handle mood swings
Get the beauty sleep.
One goes through the day’s activities like a breeze, or like clockwork. But as the day draws to a close, the body and mind are aching for a break to recoup the lost energy. The repair happens while you sleep.
If you are sleep-deprived and starved for rest, you will not wake up refreshed. Not only will you be cranky throughout the day, but will also make the wrong decisions.
Your irritability may anger your colleagues, and cause you losses in the long run. So do not cheat yourself of the requisite amount of sound sleep. Continuous sleep loss can also bring on depression or other mental health issues.
Are you eating right?
We are what we eat, goes the cliche. But that is also very true. Unhealthy eating patterns can cause mood swings. Nutritional imbalances like low levels of zinc, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids can leave you feeling sapped of energy and inexplicably angry or hopeless.
Do ask your doctor for blood tests etc to know your vitamin and mineral levels. Eat right and fill up the missing vitamins through the supplements that your doctor may likely prescribe.
Do understand if it is a low-sugar issue
Have you ever been ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry) – both at once? Maybe, sugar is the culprit. Everyone has sugar in their blood. This blood sugar is also known as glucose that is derived from food and is fuel for our body.
When we eat, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, reaches the body’s cells, at which stage, the pancreas secretes insulin to help the cells synthesise and expend this glucose for energy to run the body’s vital functions.
So, when you do not eat for long or have a diabetes-related high or low blood-sugar level issue, you can feel a dip in your mood. Beware of such a scenario as it can also be life-threatening.
Keep a sweet candy handy to have in case of sudden low blood sugar. Eat timely and healthy meals, get proper exercise. Watch your blood sugar levels and see a doctor from time to time.
Could it be stress?
Our brain is an organ that has a delicate balance of chemicals. Apart from physical factors, it is emotions and psychological factors that affect these chemicals and vice versa.
Too much of stress or worry of any kind can upset the chemical balance of the brain. Stress can leave you sleep-deprived and vice versa. So deal with it right away. Get enough exercise. Talk to your friend or a professional counsellor. Seek a solution and win back control over your mood machine.
Could it be your medication?
Medication for some other ailment or condition too can cause mood swings or depression. Whenever your doctor adds to your prescription, be mindful of asking him or her if there are any side-effects of the new medication.
Certain medicines take time to normalise with your system and make you react in extremes. Like certain steroids can make you angry easily, an incorrect dosage of blood pressure medicine can leave you feeling depressed.
Some medications whip up digestive trouble or frequent urination, some make it tough to fall asleep. So settle the medication dosage and seek a suitable mix of the drugs. If your mood swings are due to the prescription pills you are popping, fix that immediately.
Settle those hormones, first
We are what our hormones are. For example, unwelcome issues such as anxiety, depression, low mood and mood swings are all symptoms of imbalances in your thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.
If you are taking additional hormones to settle some other health issues, you may feel upset or angry for no reason. Whenever your body secretes hormones in amounts other than normal, your mood may go on a roller-coaster ride.
Adolescents are in a hormone upheaval stage and often have disproportionate reactions to stuff. So, see a doctor if you suspect hormones are playing havoc with your mood.
If you are a woman, Pre-menstrual syndrome, pregnancy or menopause too can stir up the hormones in a surprising way. Do talk to your doctor about it.
Check that Coffee Cup
Have you been having a countless number of cups of coffee just to get that surge of mood? OR smoking to feel that ‘kick’ in the brain? We advise you to stop messing with the brain’s chemicals with all that caffeine and nicotine.
Seek some other less harmful addiction till you rid yourself of all health-vices. Like chewing gum or drinking green tea whenever you feel like downing coffee. Going for a walk when you feel like having a smoke. Divert your mind and take charge of your mood swings.
Say no to drugs, substance abuse
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), underlying mental illness makes sufferers twice as likely as the general population to battle issues such as substance abuse.
It is not uncommon to find that those afflicted with drug addiction and substance abuse also have diagnosed or undiagnosed mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety as a baggage of health-related issues. This correlation surfaces among the sufferers and is called comorbidity.
Seek professional help
Extreme mood swings, especially the dark phases, can be very frightening. See a counsellor that someone recommends. Spell out your feelings. The counsellor can tell if you need to see a doctor or counselling sessions are enough.
If you feel that you wish to see a doctor, go ahead and meet one. Do not self-medicate and use some medicine that a friend said worked for her. Mind and body connection dwells in a delicate zone. Leave it to professionals where medication is concerned.
Learn to be calm and happy
Keep a schedule. Practice a routine for everything. Eat and sleep on time. Get enough exercise. Go for long walks. Make sure you get sufficient sleep, especially at night.
Maintain sync with the circardian rhythm. Eat right. Most of all, practise the art of relaxation. Learn yoga or meditation. Deal with stress, neutralise the cause and see your doctor.