Mood swing

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Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, usually between mania and depression

A mood swing is an extreme or rapid change in mood. Such mood swings can play a positive part in promoting problem solving and in producing flexible forward planning.[1] However, when mood swings are so strong that they are disruptive, they may be the main part of a bipolar disorder.[2]


Speed and extent[edit]

Mood swings are universal, varying from the microscopic to the wild oscillations of manic depression,[3] so that a continuum can be traced from normal struggles around self-esteem, through cyclothymia, up to a depressive disease.[4] However most people's mood swings remain in the mild to moderate range of emotional ups and downs.[5]

The duration of mood swings also varies. They may last a few hours - ultrarapid - or extend over days - ultradian: clinicians maintain that only when four continuous days of hypomania, or seven days of mania, occur, is a diagnosis of bipolar disorder justified.[6]

In such cases, mood swings can extend over several days, even weeks: these episodes may consist of rapid alternation between feelings of depression and euphoria.[7]


Changes in a person's energy level, sleep patterns, self-esteem, concentration, drug or alcohol use can be signs of an oncoming mood disorder.[8]

Many different things might trigger mood swings, from unhealthy diet or lifestyle to drug abuse or hormonal imbalance.

Other major causes of mood swings (besides bi-polar disorder and major depression) include diseases/disorders which interfere with nervous system function. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy,[9] and autism are three such examples.[10][11]

The hyperactivity sometimes accompanied by inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and forgetfulness are cardinal symptoms associated with ADHD.[12][unreliable medical source?] As a result, ADHD is known to bring about usually short-lived (though sometimes dramatic) mood swings. The communication difficulties associated with autism, and the associated changes in neurochemistry, are also known to cause autistic fits (autistic mood swings).[13] The seizures associated with epilepsy involve changes in the brain's electrical firing, and thus may also bring about striking and dramatic mood swings.[9] If the mood swing is not associated with a mood disorder, treatments are harder to assign. Most commonly, however, mood swings are the result of dealing with stressful and/or unexpected situations in daily life.

Degenerative diseases of the human central nervous system such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington's disease may also produce mood swings.[14]

Not eating on time can contribute, or eating too much sugar, can cause fluctuations in blood sugar, which can cause mood swings.[15][16]

Brain chemistry[edit]

If a person has an abnormal level of one or several of certain neurotransmitters (NTs) in their brain, it may result in having mood swings or a mood disorder.[17] Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter that is involved with sleep, moods, and emotional states. A slight imbalance of this NT could result in depression. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is involved with learning, memory, and physical arousal. Like serotonin, an imbalance of norepinephrine may also result in depression.[18]

List of conditions known to cause mood swings[edit]


Cognitive behavioral therapy recommends using emotional dampeners to break the self-reinforcing tendencies of either manic or depressive mood swings.[19] Exercise, treats, seeking out small (and easily attainable) triumphs, and using vicarious distractions like reading or TV, are among the techniques found to be regularly used by people in breaking depressive swings.[20]

Learning to bring oneself down from grandiose states of mind, or up from exaggerated shame states, is part of taking a proactive approach to managing one's own moods and varying sense of self-esteem.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Salovey et al, Emotional Intelligence (2004) p. 1974
  2. ^ "BBC Science - When does your mental health become a problem?". BBC Science. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Sigmund Freud, Civilization, Society and Religion (PFL 12) p. 164
  4. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 406
  5. ^ Daniel Goleman (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. p. 57. ISBN 978-0747528302. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  6. ^ S, Nassir Ghaemi, Mood Disorder (2007) p. 243-4
  7. ^ Hockenbury, Don and Sandra (2011). Discovering Psychology Fifth Edition. New York, NY: Worth Publishers. p. 549. ISBN 978-1-4292-1650-0. 
  8. ^ "Bipolar Mood Swings, Stabilizers, Triggers, and Mania." WebMD. WebMD, 3 May 0000. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.
  9. ^ a b " - Home of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Autism spectrum disorder". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Chat for Adults with HFA and Aspergers: Mood Swings in Adults on the Autism Spectrum". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Can ADHD cause mood swings?". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Donna Williams. "Donna Williams: Autism, Puberty and Possibility of Seizures". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Stern RA (1996). "Assessment of Mood States in Neurodegenerative Disease: Methodological Issues and Diagnostic Recommendations". Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry 1 (4): 315–324. doi:10.1053/SCNP00100315 (inactive 2015-01-08). PMID 10320434. 
  15. ^ Angela Haupt. "Food and Mood: 6 Ways Your Diet Affects How You Feel". US News & World Report. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Can food affect your mood? -". CNN. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Neurobiology of Mood Disorders." (PDF). Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  18. ^ [1][dead link]
  19. ^ Gilbert, Paul (1999). Overcoming Depression. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-465-01508-5. 
  20. ^ Goleman, pp. 73-4
  21. ^ Terence Real (1997). I Don't Want to Talk About It. Newleaf. p. 279. ISBN 978-0717127108. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ronald R. Fieve, Moodswing (1989)
  • Susanne P. Schad-Somers, On mood swings (1990)

External links[edit]