It’s normal to have days where you feel sad or days when you’re overjoyed. As long as your mood changes don’t interfere with your life to an extreme degree, they’re generally considered to be healthy.
On the other hand, you may have a medical condition if you switch from extremely happy to extremely depressed on a regular basis. If you have serious and frequent shifts in mood, you should tell your doctor about them. They can discuss the possible reasons for why you’re experiencing them.
Some causes of rapid changes in behavior can be related to mental health, hormones, substance use, or other health conditions.
When to see your doctor
It’s common to experience a change in mood occasionally or to go through a short period of feeling elated or blue. But if your behavior is unpredictable for a number of days or longer, it may be a sign of something more serious.
You may feel grumpy one minute and happy the next. You may also have emotions that can cause damage to your life.
For example, you may:
- be so excitable that you find yourself unable to control urges to spend money, confront people, or engage in other uncontrollable or risky behaviors
- feel like you want to harm yourself or end your life
- be unable to visit friends, get enough sleep, go to work, or even get out of bed
Patterns of these types of mood shifts may be symptoms of a more serious health condition. You should schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your feelings. They can work with you to determine why you feel this way and what you can do to resolve it.
If you’re currently in a crisis, or considering self-harm or suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
What conditions are tied to severe shifts in mood?
In many cases, shifts in mood are a symptom of a more serious health issue. They can occur due to mental health conditions, hormonal changes, or substance use problems, among other things.
Mental health conditions
Many mental health conditions can cause severe shifts in mood. They’re often referred to as mood disorders. They include the following:
- Bipolar disorder. If you have bipolar disorder, your emotions range from extremely happy to extremely sad. But changes in mood associated with bipolar disorder generally only occur a few times a year, even in rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
- Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a mild mood disorder similar to bipolar II disorder. In it, you have emotions that go up and down but are less severe than those associated with bipolar disorder.
- Major depressive disorder (MDD). In MDD, you experience extreme sadness for a long period of time. MDD is also sometimes called clinical depression.
- Dysthymia. Dysthymia, now called persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is a chronic form of depression.
- Personality disorders. In certain personality disorders, you may experience rapid changes in mood in a relatively short period of time.
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). DMDD is typically only diagnosed in children. In it, your child has outbursts that aren’t on target with their developmental stage.
According to a 2011 review, children with sever shifts in mood are often thought to have bipolar disorder but actually have another condition. Your child’s doctor will be able to evaluate your child and help you determine an appropriate treatment plan.
All mental health conditions are manageable with a number of or combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and psychotherapy.
Hormones can also cause shifts in mood. This has to do with hormones affecting the chemistry of the brain. Teens and women who are pregnant or going through menopause may experience shifts in mood due to the hormonal changes associated with this phase of their body’s development.
Shifts in mood can also occur due to more than just hormones. If you experience extreme mood shifts, talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
You may experience significant shifts in mood if you use drugs or drink alcohol. Excessive drug or alcohol use can lead to addiction, which can seriously interfere with your life. Many programs are available to help treat substance use disorders.
Substance use disorders can be hard on both the person with the disorder and loved ones. You may need to help a loved one with their disorder. Their doctor can provide helpful treatment plans to help you get them the help they need. If you’re not sure how to talk to someone with an addiction or substance use disorder, here’s something to think about.
Other health conditions
Other health conditions can cause shifts in mood. This includes conditions affecting your lungs, cardiovascular system, and thyroid. Conditions that affect your central nervous system may also cause shifts in mood.
Regardless of whether your extreme mood changes occur due to an underlying medical condition or another factor, certain things can trigger them. This includes:
- a significant change in your life
- your diet
- your sleep habits
If you experience frequent and severe shifts in mood, consult your doctor. It may be helpful for you to note when you have a shift in mood and what you were doing before it happened. This can help your doctor assess whether you were reacting to a lifestyle change or if it’s the result of an underlying issue.
How are shifts in mood treated?
If you’re experiencing severe shifts in mood, or mood changes that cause extreme disruption in typical behavior, you should talk to your doctor. They can help you determine the causes of your shifts in mood and help you find appropriate treatment. You may need professional therapy or medications to relieve these life-altering shifts in mood. Simple lifestyle changes may also help, too.
If your ups and downs aren’t affecting other aspects of your life negatively, you may be able to work through your shifts in mood without medical attention. You might be able to regulate your moods if you do the following:
- Keep a schedule. Try to create a routine for yourself, especially when it comes to eating and sleeping.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising regularly has numerous benefits for nearly all aspects of your health, including mood.
- Get sufficient sleep. A good night’s sleep is important, and sleep deprivation can affect your mood.
- Eat a healthy diet. A balanced, healthy diet can improve your mood and keep you healthy. Here are some tips to sticking to a healthy diet.
- Practice relaxation. Engage in calming practices like yoga or meditation.
- Avoid stress. Easier said than done, right? If you can’t avoid it, aim to manage and relieve stress as it comes.
- Express yourself. Find a creative outlet to express yourself.
- Talk it out. Find someone to talk to, such as a friend, family member, or professional counselor.
Keeping a journal to record your significant shifts in mood might also help you determine the reasons you experience them. Look for patterns and try to avoid situations or activities that directly impact your mood. Sharing the mood journal with your doctor can also help with your diagnosis.
The bottom line
Keep in mind that shifts in mood can vary in severity. Experiencing a range of emotions is a part of life. You may need to adjust your lifestyle to get back to feeling normal if you experience occasional mood shifts in mood.
You should take mood changes that alter your behavior and negatively impact your life or those around you seriously. Contact your doctor if you feel that severe shifts in mood have taken over your daily life or if you’ve been feeling out of sorts for an extended period of time. These could be symptoms of a health condition.