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Bipolar Disorder

Many people may think of bipolar disorder when they think about mood swings. While it’s true that people with that condition have mood highs and lows, it isn’t the only thing that causes them.

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Sleep Deprivation

Your brain and body recover from the events of the day while you sleep. If you don’t get enough rest, your sleep won’t fully refresh you. When you’re short on shut-eye, you might feel cranky. You’re also more likely to make poor choices throughout the day, and you may snap at people more often. If you skimp on sleep all the time, it may raise your chances of depression.

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Low Blood Sugar

If you’ve ever gotten “hangry” -- hungry and angry at the same time -- low blood-sugar may have been to blame. This happens to some people when they go too long between meals. You may feel angry, upset, lonely, or confused. You may even want to cry or scream.

To feel more like yourself, eat something.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to notice sudden mood changes because you could faint if your blood sugar stays too low for too long.

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Stress

Stressful situations may pop up at work, at home, or elsewhere. Chronic stress can lead to a number of health problems, and it may make you feel sad, angry, or bitter. You may lose sleep, which can affect your mood. If you can distance yourself from what causes your stress, you should start to feel more like yourself. Exercise is a good way to ease pressure, and it should also help make you feel better.

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Certain Medications

Mood swings or depression can be side effects of drugs you take. If your doctor prescribes a new medicine, pay attention to how you feel for the first few weeks, because there may be a link between your mood and your meds.

Mood swings are a common side effect of high-dose steroids. If you take them, you may become angry more easily than usual. You might have a hard time sleeping, too. That can make your mood even worse.

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Hormones

When you take hormone therapy for different things, you may feel upset or angry for no reason. Whenever your body makes hormones in greater or smaller amounts than usual, your mood may rise or fall. The same thing can happen when your body produces surges of hormones when you go through puberty.

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Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, you make more hormones than usual to help your body grow and nourish the baby. These surges can affect your mood: You may cry more or feel empty inside. You might swing suddenly from happy to sad, then back again.

Some women become depressed during pregnancy or after the baby is born, when hormone levels drop quickly. If that’s you, talk with your doctor so they can treat your depression and help lift your mood.

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PMS

Many women have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) during the days right before their period. This can bring symptoms like cramps, headaches -- and mood changes. PMS may make you feel sad or moody without a trigger. It can be because your levels of certain hormones drop at that time of the month. Once you get your period, your hormone levels start to pick up, which helps your symptoms go away.

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Menopause

When you start menopause, your body makes far fewer hormones than it once did. That drop can cause any number of symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep problems, and mood swings. Lifestyle changes, like a healthier diet, more sleep, or more exercise, can help your mood. Your doctor could prescribe medicine, too.

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Dementia

Dementia causes damage to the brain, which affects a person’s memory and personality over time. People with dementia may have sudden mood swings -- calm one minute, then angry or upset the next. They may feel frustrated that they forget things or can’t express their thoughts anymore. Some people with dementia become depressed and withdraw into themselves. Others don’t interact with anyone, even if they had been social before.

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ADHD

If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may not be able to control your impulses well. You’re likely to get angry or frustrated suddenly, even for small things like long lines or traffic. People with ADHD are more likely to become depressed or have other problems related to mood. With treatment, you can learn to control your impulses, which can help make you feel more like yourself.

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Thyroid Issues

People who have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) make too much thyroid hormone. People with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) don’t make enough. Both can cause a number of health problems, including mood swings. When you get treatment for the thyroid, your levels should return to normal. This should help your symptoms fade, and you should start to feel more like yourself.

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Caffeine

Coffee, soda, and other beverages that have caffeine can boost your mood while they give you a burst of energy. Because caffeine stimulates your nervous system, you may feel more alert than usual. If you use it often, your body gets used to its effects. By that point, if you try to cut back, it can make you feel tired, annoyed, nervous, or anxious.

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Too Much Sugar

Many studies suggest that if you eat a lot of refined sugars, like things with high fructose corn syrup, it can affect how your brain functions. That can affect your mood. It can even make symptoms of mood disorders like depression worse. Common foods with refined sugars include crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce, salad dressing, most processed foods, and many choices that are labeled “low-fat.”

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/01/2019 Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on March 01, 2019

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SOURCES:

National Institute of Mental Health: “Bipolar disorder.”

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: “Sleep deprivation and deficiency,” “Your guide to healthy sleep.”

Hypoglycemia Support Foundation: “Hypoglycemia, the blood-sugar roller coaster.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Low blood sugar? 8 warning signs if you have diabetes.”

National Institute of Mental Health: “5 things you should know about stress.”

Harvard Health Letter: “Is your medication making you depressed?”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Prednisone.”

Nemours Foundation: “Why am I in such a bad mood?”

National Cancer Institute: “Hormone therapy for breast cancer.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Depression during and after pregnancy: You are not alone.”

Office On Women’s Health: “Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).”

Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network: “Moos swings.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Dementia.”

National Institute on Aging: “Symptoms of Lewy body dementia.”

Mayo Clinic: “Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),” “Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).”

Nemours Foundation: “Caffeine.”

FDA: “Spilling the beans: How much caffeine is too much?”

CDC: ”Get the facts: Drinking water and intake.”  

American College of Emergency Physicians: “Dehydration comes on fast and can be fatal.”

Cancer Treatment Centers of America: “Natural vs. refined sugars: What's the difference?”

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on March 01, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.