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Mood Swings: How to Get Pass the Highs and Lows

You were just fine this morning. You woke up excited to face the day; you even made your family a special breakfast --- pancakes with fresh blueberries in yogurt. But as you begin your other chores, you notice that your energy is dipping. Suddenly, you resent being left alone at home, and you feel like breaking every single piece of china in the kitchen. So you did. And then you fall into a heap on the floor and cry.

In life, it’s important that we get to experience all kinds of emotions. After all, there are situations that can make us happy, situations that can make us sad, and situations that can make us angry. But even if we’re supposed to be open to our feelings, there’s a big difference between being simply aware of emotional transitions, and suffering from mood swings. When you see-saw between emotional extremes faster than you can cope, then you have a problem.

Do you feel like a pendulum swinging between moods? Then consider the following tips in finding stability between highs and the lows:

Where is your locus of control? Ask yourself: who do you believe is responsible for your emotions? Researchers believe that there are two kinds of people in the world: those with an internal and those with an external locus of control. The former believe they themselves decide how they feel and behave. The latter, on the other hand, believe their moods are determined by factors outside of themselves, such as other people’s reactions or situations beyond their control. If you want to manage your mood swings better, you have to start by being a person with an internal locus of control.

Learn thought management techniques. Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques (or the management of thoughts resulting to particular emotions) are known to be effective in dealing with mood swings. What you need to do is sit down and identify particular thoughts that trigger your low and high moods. For instance, do you tend to feel depressed when you remember experiences of abandonment? Then practice self-talk. (“I will not let myself be abandoned anymore.”) Do you engage in manic behavior when thinking about upcoming bills? Then tell yourself you’re more likely to get balances paid if you work in a relaxed fashion. Mindfulness of thoughts that trigger moods is a good way of regaining control in your life.

Consider hormonal imbalance. Moods swings, especially for women, can be caused by imbalance in the hormones that control emotions. The different stages in the reproductive cycle, in particular ---- a woman’s period, pregnancy, post-childbirth, are associated with hormonal imbalance that can make women irritable and/or prone to crying or anger outbursts. If you feel that hormones are to blame for your mood swings, visit a doctor specializing in endocrinology or reproductive health. 

Consider Mood Disorders. If your mood swings tend to be chronic and extreme, and are already causing significant impairment in your life, then consider the possibility that you have a mood disorder. Mood disorders, such as manic-depression, can be biological in origin. The good news is: there are medications and talking therapies known to successfully eliminate mood disorders. Consult a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist for more information.

Lastly, develop structures in your life. Mood swings can be assisted by having a day that’s predictable, or at least, predictable enough that you don’t get blindsided by surprises. Establish regular hours for sleeping and waking up; adequate sleep can regulate moods. Create an agenda, so that you won’t feel overwhelmed by work about to be done. And tell your loved ones that you need advanced notice before accommodating something new in your schedule. If things are in order, you won’t have to worry much about emotional extremes.

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