You’re up. You’re down. And you’re soon up again. It seems like you spend your days riding an emotional roller coaster.
Are these changes normal? The answer is “maybe” — so long as they don’t disrupt your life or the lives of people around you.
Many things can affect how your mood shifts throughout the day. For example, because of body rhythms, most people feel upbeat and energetic around noon but tend to have more negative feelings during the early afternoon or evening.
Sometimes, mood swings are a symptom of a mental illness. Or they could be a clue that something else is happening in your body.
Serious mood shifts that threaten your well-being can be treated by medical professionals. Lifestyle changes can often help mild ones.
But first, you’ll need to figure out what could be causing your bumpy ride.
Stress and Anxiety
Day-to-day hassles and unexpected surprises — both the good kind and the unpleasant ones — can definitely change your mood. And when you’re especially sensitive, you may react more strongly or more often to situations than other people.
Lack of sleep, a common complaint of people under stress, doesn’t help.
Some people feel uneasy, fearful, and worried even when they realize there’s no good reason. You could be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder if you’ve had trouble controlling your worries more often than not for the past 6 months and you have additional symptoms such as trouble sleeping. When it’s severe, it can be almost impossible to get through the day.
People with bipolar disorder have highs and lows that are much more intense and longer-lasting than usual mood swings.
For example, it’s normal to feel great, like everything’s going your way, for a day or two. Someone with bipolar disorder, though, can spend several days or weeks being the life of the party: racing around, talking fast, not sleeping much, and doing destructive things like running through the family’s bank account. That’s called a manic phase. They could possibly hear voices, too.
Similarly, it’s not uncommon to have trouble getting out of bed to go to a job you don’t like. But someone with bipolar disorder may stay in bed for 4 days and lose that job. They may feel unmotivated, sad, or even suicidal. That is called the depressed phase.
This treatable mental illness affects 3% of adult Americans each year.