Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forums. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Do you have mood swings? What helps?” from Nov. 27, 2018. Do you struggle with this symptom? Do you have solutions you’d like to share? Post your replies in the comments below or at the original forum entry.
It seemed like just a minute ago I was feeling calm. Then I answered three frustrating emails and wham! I’m not feeling calm at all! I want to pace around and scream from the back porch. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up crying later today, even though it’s a rare sunny day in Seattle and my daughter’s coming over with her sweet little puppy for dinner tonight.
This is crazy-making. I slept well last night. I ate breakfast. I’ve only had one cup of coffee. Where are these mood swings coming from?
Can I blame them on multiple sclerosis?
What’s a mood swing?
Mood swings are sudden shifts in an emotional state. They’re common, a part of ordinary life. In fact, they may even be part of someone’s personality.
Mood swings are caused by many things. Common sense alone can tell us that poor sleep, too much sugar or caffeine, alcohol use, medication side effects, inadequate pain management, stressful life events (getting married, being laid off, losing a loved one) may predispose us to extreme emotional shifts.
Women experience mood swings as a direct result of shifts in hormones throughout their lives. Similar hormone changes, such as shifts in testosterone, also contribute to mood swings in men.
When should we worry about them? In an article by Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. Nancy Donovan, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains that “mood-related symptoms can come and go in response to everyday stresses.” She adds, however, that if the symptoms “occur for long periods, cause significant distress, or interfere with your daily functioning, it’s an indication to seek help.”
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