Most of us, at some point, have experienced or exhibited eccentricity when it comes to our emotions. One moment you feel annoyed, but the next moment you are elated. These rapidly fluctuating emotions are called mood swings and are reactions to your surroundings or situations that could occur for no apparent reason.
Mood Swings Vs Depression
While a mood swing is an abrupt change in emotion, depression is a long-term period of sadness and is a severe illness. Here’s a simple thumb rule to differentiate the two:
Duration: How long are you sad? Mood swings have a sudden burst and then retreat. If symptoms strongly linger for days, weeks, or a month, then you are probably experiencing a form of depression.
Functionality: If you cannot work, have fun with friends, and take care of yourself, then you are probably experiencing depression. With mood swings, functionality in daily activities tends to remain intact.
Degree: The severity of your symptoms can also be a good indicator of depression or mood swings. We all have bad days where we feel melancholy and want time to ourselves. But if you lose interest in your favourite activities and can’t get out of bed, you may be experiencing depression. If you can go out and have fun after a sudden outburst, you probably are undergoing a mood swing.
What Causes Mood Swings?
Often, lifestyle factors and sudden changes play a role in the onset of mood swings. Say, moving home or changing jobs, work stress, lack of quality sleep, poor eating habits, or taking medications that impact. It is essential to understand that triggers that lead to mood swings can affect males and females equally, while some affect females only.
Mood Swings in Women
Hormonal shifts can lead to significant changes in mood, and women tend to be more prone to symptoms of hormonal changes than males, particularly during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Some of the common causes of mood swings in females include premenstrual syndrome. About 90% of women experience some form of PMS symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, depression, fatigue, and food cravings. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS experienced by about 5% of women, where women experience higher intensities of anxiety, anger, irritability, or depression.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause sudden shifts in mood, as well as feelings of anxiety and vulnerability. Physical changes may also influence a woman’s emotions. These mood changes may be more apparent during the first trimester and level off once the body has adapted to fluctuating hormone levels. However, some women will experience mood swings throughout their pregnancy. Menopause is a natural life transition where a person’s menstrual cycles end. It typically happens to women in North America between the ages of 40 and 58 but the average age is 51.
Mood Swings in Men
Mood swings in men are a primary symptom of andropause. Irritability resulting from a hormonal imbalance is a reality, especially for men between the ages of 40 and 60.
Mood swings in men are called ‘Irritable Man Syndrome’ or ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’ (IMS). Irritability in men is often a result of high-stress cortisol levels and low testosterone levels. Some men respond by acting out, while others hold these feelings in and become depressed. Behaviors characteristic of men with Irritable Men Syndrome include feeling angry, impatient, sarcastic, anxious, tense, hostile, argumentative, unloving, frustrated, withdrawn, demanding, defensive, sad, or dissatisfied.
It is a good idea to journal how regular, intense, and persistent your mood swings are. You must consult a doctor if your mood swings affect your work and relationships or trigger you to think of self-harm or suicide.
Tips to Control Mood Swings
- Maintain a regular sleep cycle for minimum 8 hours
- Avoid stress as much as possible. Keep yourself relaxed
- Consider stress-management techniques like yoga, deep breathing or mindfulness and meditation
- Follow a balanced diet and include more fluids like water, green tea, buttermilk, lime water and even milk. Milk has a soothing effect on the brain
- Stay away from negative thoughts and keep yourself engaged with an activity you enjoy