Communicating Concepts

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Mood Swings

What is a Mood Swing?

      Mood swings, associated with a psychiatric diagnosis, fall under a category of mood disorders defined by one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels with or without one or more depressive episodes. In patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there are episodes of serious mood swings that alternate rapidly between depression and euphoria. This cycling of moods can last for days or even weeks.

      Deep and prolonged mood swings are usually associated with psychiatric conditions, substance abuse, medication side effects, hormonal changes, chronic medical conditions, brain tumors, traumatic head injuries, or Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord).

      However, it is normal to experience, from time to time, a wide range of negative emotions such as anger, irritability, fearfulness, and sadness. However, it is not normal for mood swings to become out of control and seriously affect our ability to function in our job, career, or personal relationships.

      Mood swings can signal a serious medical problem. Failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. After the underlying cause is diagnosed, a health care professional treatment plan can reduce the risk of potential complications.

Minor Mood Swings
      Most minor mood swings can be the result of dealing with daily life stresses associated with aging and/or unexpected situations such as accidents. Mood swings can also be caused by hormonal changes that temporarily upset brain chemistry (adolescence) or permanent conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson, and diabetes associated with aging.

      Hyperactivity or Hyperactivity/Inattentiveness may be observed in individuals diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If the mood swing is not associated with a mood disorder, treatments are harder to assign.

      Our bodies experience normal hormonal changes and these changes have the potential to mess up the way we think and feel at the moment. Pain and stressful situations can also trigger mood swings in some individuals.

Signals of a Mood Swing in progress
       Sudden feelings of irritation, being uncomfortable, and/or emotionally empty usually signals that a mood swing is occurring,   

      Sometimes we feel bad, but the reason is difficult to diagnose so mood swings seem to occur without being associated with an identifiable reason. Our mind constantly communicates with the external world through our five senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.  Any of these inputs can affect your perception of reality and can cause a mood swing.

      Every external input your mind receives can be a reminder of an unsolved problem or a traumatic incident that can cause a person's mood to quickly change. Shifts in moods can result from remembering a problem, that you have been ignoring. Instituting a plan to change behavior must also address any procrastination problems that prevent immediately taking action to solve problems.

Mood Swings don't just happen!
     A person is normally unaware of the subconscious process that triggers their mood swing. The mind  receives a tremendous amount of information, but of the information it processes, a very small percentage actually rises to the level associated with conscious thoughts.

     The subconscious mind may process information related to the cause of mood swings; however, the mood swing generally masks the root causes of the bad memories that spill over into our conscious.

     There are warnings signs that usually precede a change in mood, depending on the person’s coping style, personality, and previous level of functioning. Following are some symptoms that you might identify with and compare yourself to:

 Source: University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center


  • Blunted emotional presentation or frequent crying spells
  • Difficulty in finding pleasure in life activities
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Profound feelings of guilt or shame
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Cold or distant feelings toward family or friends


  • Decreased interest in participating in activities previously enjoyed
  • Diminished interest in maintaining one’s hygiene
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Reduced coping ability
  • Impaired communication with others (e.g., irritating, sarcastic)

Physical Complaints:

  • Lack of energy
  • Compulsive eating or loss of appetite
  • Headaches, backaches, or general muscle aches without a specific cause
  • Gastrointestinal problems (e.g., stomach pain, nausea, change in bowel habits)
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
     If you have several of these symptoms, consulting with a professional counselor may help you in finding a solution to handle your problem(s). The first step in this process is to understand that you have a problem that will not be cured without intervention and just with the passage of time.

How to Mitigate Sudden Mood Swings
     An import action that can be taken  is learning to monitor your thoughts. Monitoring your thoughts requires you identify your feelings and when they start to change even a little bit, search your thoughts to find out the possible root cause for this minor change.

    Searching for the rot causes may be hard at the beginning; however, with practice you should be able to correctly identify the reason for any emotional change that you experience. Generally there are usually multiple thoughts that accumulate and are remain dormant, until the last one that triggers the mood swing. People may refer to this as the "straw that broke the camel's back."

    Try to take notes about your thoughts so you can try to find the links between your feelings and your thoughts throughout the day. This will seem like a lot of effort, especially at the beginning. However, this will turn into an automatic, unconscious process.

   There are a variety of issues that cause mood swings in people of all ages. Whatever is the cause of a mood swing, it easier to prevent them from occurring, then to treat them after they occur!

   Specific issues that are related to the individual's age and gender may trigger a mood change:

Anger Management
Addictive Behaviors
Anxiety/Panic Attacks
Stress Concerns
Domestic Violence
Financial Problems
Marriage, Family problems
Interpersonal Relationships
Mixed or blended families
Step dads or step mom

Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Retirement Concerns
Stress Concerns
Career Concerns
Critical Incident
Medical Concerns
Children/Child Care
Disciplinary Issues
Parent care
Employee Conflicts
Recommended Reading:
  • How to Deal with Mood Swings Aside from the use of low-cost prescription drugs in relieving and stabilizing mood swings, read about other tips on dealing with this emotional roller coaster.
  • Dealing with Mood Swings Feb. 21, 2011 ... It's normal for people to go through different emotions throughout the day.

Developing Personality and Character Traits



The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

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