Skip to content
    The content below was selected by the WebMD Editorial staff and is solely under WebMD's editorial control.
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Mood Swings and Bipolar Disorder

    It’s tough to go through the mood swings of bipolar disorder. Depression can make it hard to do the things you want and need to do. During manic periods, you may be reckless and volatile.

    The best way to avoid mood swings is to get treatment. You may not be able to totally prevent bouts of mania or depression. Even people who always take their medication and take care of their health can still have mood swings from time to time. That's why it's important to catch changes in your mood, energy levels, and sleeping patterns before they turn into something serious.

    Recommended Related to Bipolar Disorder

    What Is the Bipolar Spectrum?

    The bipolar spectrum is a term used to refer to conditions that include not only bipolar disorder as traditionally defined (that is, clear episodes of mania or hypomania as well as depressive syndromes) but also other types of mental conditions that can involve depression or mood swings without manic or hypomanic episodes -- including some impulse control disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and forms of substance abuse. Some psychiatrists find the "bipolar spectrum" concept to be...

    Read the What Is the Bipolar Spectrum? article > >

    Mood Swing Triggers in Bipolar Disorder

    At first, mood swings may take you by surprise. But over time, you might start to see patterns or signs that you're entering a period of mania or depression. Aside from a shift in your mood, look for changes in your:

    • Sleep patterns
    • Energy level
    • Alcohol or drug use
    • Sex drive
    • Self-esteem
    • Concentration

    Mood episodes in bipolar disorder often happen suddenly, for no particular reason. Sometimes, you may notice that there are specific things that can trigger mania or depression, such as getting too little sleep, changes to your daily routine, or jet lag when you travel. Many people find they're more likely to become depressed or manic during stressful times at work or during holidays. Some people see seasonal patterns to their mood changes.

    One good way to spot your triggers is to keep a journal. Make note of big events, stresses, your medication dose, and the amount of sleep you're getting. Over time, you might see some patterns.

    Of course, there may be triggers that you just can’t avoid, like a serious illness or the death of a loved one. But if you can recognize the things that are likely to bring on mania or depression, you can prepare for times when you might be most vulnerable. Work with a mental health professional to plan what to do when you think a mood swing might happen. Ask for more help from family and friends. Have them check in more often so you get extra support.

    If you see the signs of potential trouble, get help. Don't wait for the mood episode to pass on its own. You might be able to stop a minor change from becoming a serious problem.

    Next Article:

    How do you usually deal with stress?