What is a shift in mood?

If you’ve ever felt angry or frustrated within moments of feeling happy or elated, you may have experienced a shift in mood These sudden and dramatic changes in emotion may seem as if they come on for no reason. However, there are a few common causes that may be responsible.

Many conditions and lifestyle choices can cause women to experience severe changes in mood. These include:

Premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that occur in women 1 to 2 weeks before a period. In addition to mood shifts, PMS can cause fatigue, changes in appetite, depression, bloating, and more. The majority of women — 90 percent — experience some PMS-like symptoms before their periods. The severity of these symptoms may change from month to month. They may get worse or improve with age.

It’s unclear why this premenstrual period causes these symptoms. Researchers suspect that shifts in the hormone estrogen are most likely to blame. In the days and weeks before a period, a woman’s estrogen levels rise and fall dramatically. They level out 1 to 2 days after menstruation begins. These shifts may affect mood and behavior.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more severe and rare type of PMS. PMDD affects up to 5 percent of women of childbearing age. Symptoms of PMDD include extreme shifts in mood, severe depression, extreme irritability, and more.

Lifestyle treatments alone are rarely enough to treat PMDD. Many women will combine alternative treatments — like stress management and dietary changes — with medication in order to find relief from symptoms, including extreme shifts in mood.


Stress and worry impact your body and health in a variety of unhealthy ways. One such area can be your mood. Frustrations, worry, and a constant state of stress can lead to severe shifts in mood, along with other psychological issues.

Psychiatric causes

Psychological disorders and behavioral conditions can affect disposition and cause symptoms like shifts in mood. These disorders include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, bipolar disorder, and more. Treating these conditions will most likely ease the symptoms of extreme mood shifts and any other symptoms you may be experiencing.

Hormone imbalances

Estrogen may play a role in PMS-related shifts in mood, but other hormones can affect mood, too. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, is a common hormone disorder. It can affect mood and cause other symptoms.


Puberty is a time of emotional, physical, and psychological changes in a child’s life. Mood shifts and unexplained emotional reactions can be common during this phase of life.


Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can lead to changes in emotions and mood. Plus, pregnant women often experience physical changes and emotional stress that can make issues like mood shifts and emotional outpourings more severe.


Another major transition in life, menopause, is associated with a period of mood shifts. As levels of estrogen fall, many women experience a variety of symptoms, including changes in mood, hot flashes, insomnia, and reduced sex drive. Some doctors will provide perimenopausal women with hormone replacement drugs to help the ease into the low-estrogen phase of life.

It’s possible to stabilize your mood and improve your health in order to avoid future shifts in mood and emotions. The following treatments for changes in mood focus on lifestyle or alternative treatments you can try at home. Other treatments, including prescription medicines, are sometimes used.

Get regular exercise

Moving and exercising are great for your physical and mental health. They can also help you treat or avoid shifts in mood. When you exercise, your body produces feel-good hormones and endorphins that can help alleviate stress and boost mood. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar

These stimulants and depressants can alter your natural state, making mood shifts worse or causing them in the first place. Sure, caffeine can make you feel less fatigued, but it can also exacerbate anxiety and nervousness.

Alcohol is a depressant that can worsen bad moods or make you behave irrationally. Sugary foods, while delicious, can cause swings in your blood sugar level. These fluctuations may cause shifts in mood and other symptoms. Cut back as much as you can on all three foods in order to maintain stable moods.

Try calcium supplements

Studies suggest that calcium supplements may help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and emotional fluctuation from PMS. In one study, participants were given 500 milligrams of calcium daily for 2 months. After two periods, those who had received the supplement showed much less severe PMS symptoms.

In addition to helping with shifts in mood, calcium supplements may help protect bones from deterioration; this is especially important for perimenopausal women. Talk with your doctor about the right supplement for you.

Change your diet

Eating large meals three times per day may be traditional, but eating smaller meals may be better for mood stability. That’s because blood sugar shifts following large meals may contribute to emotional shifts. Smaller meals, divided throughout the day, may help stabilize your blood sugar to keep these extreme shifts in mood at bay.

Practice stress management

Stress and anxiety can make symptoms of several conditions, including PMS, worse. If you’re worried, taxed, or otherwise strained, learning to manage the stress can help you avoid complications, including changes in mood. Meditation, deep breathing, and yoga are all proven to help manage stress. Massage therapy or talk therapy may also be highly beneficial.

Get better sleep

A good night’s sleep can cure a lot of ills, including irritability and extreme changes in mood. Aim for 7 to 8 hours per night. If that seems too daunting, try to add just 30 extra minutes by turning in half an hour earlier than you normally would. When you’ve managed that, try adding 30 minutes more. The additional shut-eye will add up in healthy, beneficial ways.

Severe changes in mood happen from time to time. Whether it’s because of a period or due to increased stress from work, many factors can contribute to these shifts in mood and attitude. However, finding healthy ways to cope with them can help reduce the risk for future mood changes.

If your shifts in mood interfere with your day or you think they’re becoming more problematic, talk with your healthcare provider. While many of the underlying causes for mood shifts are easy to diagnose and treat, some others may require additional treatment. This may include prescription medication.