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What Causes Mood Swings?

Common Causes | What to do with mood swings When to the doctor | Tips for mild mood swings | Summary

Who can claim that they are always in a good mood, never irritable and never in a bad mood? No one. Because bad weather, a short night or stress and excessive demands at work quickly cause a change in mood. Simple mood swings are part of our everyday lives, so going from high to low is completely normal. Let's call it lifestyle mood swings. However, it is different when these sudden mood swings occur much more intensively and regularly and they may have physiological or pathological causes as a basis.

This article discusses the most common causes of mood swings in both men and women, along with treatment options and tips for prevention.

Common causes of mood swings

In this article, we distinguish between 3 types of mood swings: lifestyle, physical, and psychological.

Lifestyle-related mood swings

Lifestyle-related mood swings are often caused by stress and strains at work or in the family . But poor nutrition with associated nutrient deficiencies or lack of sleep can also lead to a deterioration in mood. Here are some tips on what to do if you have mild mood swings.

Physical mood swings

Physical mood swings are physical . They are usually preceded by a hormonal change in the body. For example, during the menstrual cycle (PMS), pregnancy or during the menopause. These examples already show that hormonal mood swings affect women to a greater extent . A 2006 GFK study found that 60% of women between the ages of 25 and 45 experience mood swings. That corresponds to 2 out of 3 women. [ 1 ] Interestingly, 80% accept this emotional burden - without doing anything about it or consulting a doctor. Another physical cause can be thyroid dysfunction. Although the thyroid is a small organ, an underactive thyroid can cause prolonged fatigue and severe mood swings.

mood swings period (PMS)

Especially in the days before the menstrual period, many women experience periods of sudden bad mood and irritability. These moods can be part of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). [ 2 ]
Why is that? From ovulation in the middle of the cycle, the levels of the happiness hormones estrogen and serotonin in the body drop and reach their lowest point just before menstruation. Above all, the lack of serotonin has a direct effect on mood.

mood swings cause

Mood swings during menopause

With the hormonal changes during menopause, the likelihood of being surprised by mood swings, unusual irritability, fears, restlessness, inner tension and restlessness, and even depression increases. The beginning, duration and end of menopause differ from woman to woman.

mood swings during pregnancy

The hormonal changes of pregnancy can cause sudden mood swings and feelings of anxiety and vulnerability

These mood swings may be more pronounced in the first trimester and subside once the body adjusts to the fluctuating hormone levels. However, some women experience mood swings and an emotional roller coaster ride throughout pregnancy.

Mood swings because of the thyroid

Both an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can affect mood. The hormones produced by the thyroid have a direct effect on metabolism and the brain and thus also influence the psyche and feelings . In Germany, 5 out of 100 people suffer from hypothyroidism [ 3 ]

Mental mood swings

In addition to the physical mood swings, there are extreme mood changes that are caused by a mental illness. This includes, for example, depression, burnout or a bipolar disorder.

What to do with mood swings?

The mood swings are often due to certain life circumstances with severe stress or extraordinary emotional strain. However, if the ups and downs of feelings last longer or if these fluctuations occur suddenly and without reason and if they also have a severe impact on work and private life, then clarification by a doctor is the only right way.

treat mood swings

The doctor tries to find out possible causes by taking a detailed anamnesis. So-called mood diaries, in which the frequency and strength are noted, can be very helpful here.

Physical diseases can be uncovered or ruled out by organic and hormonal examinations. In the case of such a disease, the mood swings usually disappear with the appropriate drug treatment. If there are psychological causes, the doctor can refer you to a psychotherapist.

When to see a doctor for mood swings

Sufferers should see their doctor if their mood swings...

  • are regular, intense alternations between highs and lows
  • the phases are persistent (over several days).
  • Mood swings “for no reason” cannot be explained.
  • severely affect their lives - work, relationships, friendships

Tips for mild mood swings

If you have a slight mood swing, you can do something yourself. But what helps against mood swings?

mood swings what to do

Medicinal plants: There are some calming herbal remedies that can have a mood-regulating effect. Valerian, lavender, lemon balm, passion flower or St. John's wort are examples of this.
Studies have confirmed that St. John's wort reduces nervous restlessness and has a mood-enhancing effect, [ 4 ] But important: Pregnant and breastfeeding women are not recommended to take St. John's wort and the effect of the birth control pill can be weakened.

Healthy diet: Bad moods and mood swings can be alleviated by a healthy diet and, above all, plenty of foods that contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients. By eating these foods, you are doing something good for your body and mind as well as your soul and mood. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in walnuts, fish and flaxseed oil, for example, can also help to stabilize mood. In these articles, we reveal 6 foods that put you in a good mood or 5 foods that have stress-reducing properties.

Vitamin D: For better mood values, it is worth bringing the vitamin D value into an optimal range. According to recent studies, low vitamin D levels almost double the risk of developing depression[ 4 ].

L-tryptophan / 5-HTP: L-tryptophan is a protein building block that can also be ingested through diet. It is a component of milk, cheese, potatoes, nuts and beef, among other things. L-tryptophan is the precursor to 5-HTP, which in turn is the precursor to serotonin, our happy hormone.

Better sleep: In order to make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, it is important to calm down mentally. Meditation and relaxation exercises, yoga and autogenic training can help to switch off. To prevent hours of tossing and turning in bed, serotalin® Rapid Melatonin Spray can help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. The supplied melatonin works within a very short time and ensures that you fall asleep quickly
Exchange: It is not only important to turn to someone and talk to them in times of stress, emotional chaos or crises. Sharing it makes it easier for both you and those around you to deal with your mood swings.


In most cases, a person's emotions will settle down within a few hours or days. If the mood swings are due to an underlying physical and psychological problem, treating that problem can help people control their emotions.

Occasional mild to moderate mood swings are a normal part of life. They can occur more frequently at certain times, for example. when significant life changes occur or hormonal fluctuations occur due to menstruation and pregnancy.

There are many things that can help prevent mood swings. This includes creating and maintaining a daily routine, eating a healthy diet, choosing nutritional supplements, and getting enough sleep. regular exercise, finding ways to deal with stress, or sharing with others.

Intense, prolonged, or recurring mood swings may indicate an underlying problem. In these cases, it is best to see a doctor. A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose these disorders and recommend treatment.

With treatment, most people with mental health problems can learn to manage their feelings and improve their quality of life.

Important note: The general information on this page is by no means a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained doctors.