What Causes Extreme Mood Swings?

The mood is a state of mind or a form of emotion that appears according to the circumstances of life. One is in a happy mood when a person faces a positive event and he becomes sad in negative circumstances. Mood swings are conditions when a person experiences change in state of mind from one to another in a day. This is a normal phenomenon. But mood swings may become rapid and extreme in a response to certain events. They may influence the quality of life. This leads to the appearance of mood disorders in them. The factors that can cause extreme mood swings are discussed in this article.

What Causes Extreme Mood Swings?

The mood is a state of mind that represents a particular emotion at a time. The mood may change from one to another several time in a day according to different events in a day. This is called a mood swing. Extreme mood swings are sudden and dramatic fluctuations of one’s feeling of happy state and well being to the feelings of anger, frustrated, irritability or depression with no specific reason. These fluctuations may become rapid and extreme leading to mental disorder named as mood disorders. Mood swings are more common in women than in men.

The factors that can cause extreme mood swings are-

Chronic Stress– mild stress is necessary to improve the performance cognitive abilities of an individual. But high levels of stress increase the secretion of a high amount of stress hormones in the blood. Stress hormones then travel to vital organs such as heart, lungs stomach and other parts of the body in flight or fright response. These lead to sudden changes like rapid breathing, increased heart rate change in the functioning of the brain. These changes in the brain are caused due to imbalances in the neurotransmitters. Chronic stress may cause extreme mood swings.

Psychiatric Causes– psychiatric illness such as depression, bipolar disorders, etc. may cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, rejection, and unhappiness. This happens due to imbalances in the chemicals in the brain caused due to life events like loss of loved ones, loss of job, etc. This may trigger extreme mood swings.

Hormonal Imbalances– hormones changes that occur in females during the menstrual period, puberty, pregnancy or menopause may cause mood swings. Hormone changes include the rise or fall of the estrogens in the body. These events bring physical changes in the body and increase stress and fatigue in the body.

Substance Abuse Or Side Effects Of Certain Medicines– drug abuse such as the use of cocaine or heroin may cause outbursts of anger or extreme mood swings. Long term changes in the brain are enhanced by drug abuse or medicines leading to less secretion of dopamine and non-stimulation of the neurotransmitters. This may result in behavioral and mood changes. Certain antibiotics like gentamicin and ciprofloxacin, medicines are given to control high blood pressure, antidepressants can cause mood swings.

Medical Illness– medical illness like stroke brain tumors, meningitis, stroke, dementia, cardiovascular diseases, lung ailments, and thyroid diseases may cause extreme mood swings in a person.

Diet And Dieting– sugary items in our diet like chocolate or other sweets elevate the levels of tryptophan increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin elevates your mood. Omega-3 fatty acids have a similar impact on the mood as they supercharge the neurotransmitter pathways in a positive manner. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids may cause mood swings by increasing emotions of anger, irritation, and depression. A balanced diet plays an important role in stabilizing one’s mood. If someone is restricting one of the macronutrients in his diet, he may have mood swings and cranky behavior.


The normal mood swings can be felt in day to day life. Extreme mood swings are characterized by sudden alterations of the feeling of happiness and well-being to sadness and irritability. They are caused by stress, hormonal changes, certain medicines, and others discussed above.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 21, 2019

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