Many people have days where they feel sad or overjoyed. When shifts in mood don’t affect your daily schedule regularly, they’re generally considered to be typical.

On the other hand, if you have large shifts from happiness to depression on a regular basis, you should speak with your doctor. They can discuss the possible reasons you’re experiencing them.

Some causes of rapid changes in behavior can be related to mental health, hormones, substance use, or other health conditions.

It’s common to experience a change in mood occasionally or to go through a short period of feeling elated or blue. But if your behavior is unpredictable for a number of days or longer, it may be a sign of something more serious.

For example, you may:

  • find yourself unable to control urges to spend money, confront people, or engage in other behaviors
  • feel like you want to harm yourself or end your life
  • be unable to visit friends, get enough sleep, go to work, or even get out of bed

Patterns of these mood shifts may be symptoms of a more serious health condition. Your doctor can work with you to determine why you feel this way and what you can do to resolve it.

If you’re currently considering self-harm or suicide, reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text “HOME” to 741741.

In many cases, large shifts in mood are a symptom of a more serious health issue. They can occur due to mental health conditions, hormonal changes, or substance use problems.

Mental health conditions

Many mental health conditions can cause severe shifts in mood. They’re often referred to as mood disorders. They include the following:

  • Bipolar disorder. If you have bipolar disorder, your emotions may range from extremely happy to extremely sad. But changes in mood associated with bipolar disorder generally only occur a few times a year.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a mild mood disorder similar to bipolar disorder. In it, you have shifting emotions less severe than those associated with bipolar disorder.
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD). In MDD, you experience extreme sadness for a long period. MDD is also sometimes called clinical depression.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (PDD). PDD, formerly called dysthymia, is a chronic form of depression.
  • Personality disorders. In certain personality disorders, you may experience rapid changes in mood in a relatively short period.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). DMDD is typically only diagnosed in children. In it, a child has outbursts that aren’t on target with their developmental stage.

You may also experience extreme changes in mood if you have other mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

According to a 2011 review, children with severe shifts in mood are often thought to have bipolar disorder but usually have another condition. Your child’s doctor will be able to evaluate your child and help you determine an appropriate treatment plan.

All mental health conditions are manageable with a number of or combination of medications, lifestyle measures, and psychotherapy.

Hormonal conditions

Hormones can also cause shifts in mood. This has to do with hormones affecting the chemistry of the brain. Teens and those who are pregnant, experiencing premenstrual syndrome, or going through menopause may experience shifts in mood due to the hormonal changes associated with this phase of their body’s development.

Shifts in mood can also occur due to more than just hormones. If you experience mood shifts, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

Substance use

You may experience significant shifts in mood if you use drugs or drink alcohol. Drug or alcohol misuse may lead to dependence and could seriously interfere with your life. Many programs are available to help treat substance use disorders.

If you know someone with substance use disorder, their doctor can provide helpful treatment plans to help you get them the help they need. If you’re not sure how to talk with someone with an addiction or substance use disorder, here’s a place to start.

Other health conditions

Other health conditions can cause shifts in mood. This includes conditions affecting your lungs, cardiovascular system, and thyroid. Conditions that affect your central nervous system may also cause shifts in mood.

Common triggers

Regardless of whether your rapid mood changes occur due to an underlying medical condition or another factor, certain things can trigger them. This includes:

  • stress
  • a significant change in your life
  • your diet
  • your sleep habits
  • medications

If you experience frequent and severe shifts in mood, talk with your doctor. It may be helpful for you to note when you have a shift in mood and what you were doing before it happened. This can help your doctor assess whether you were reacting to a lifestyle change or if it’s the result of an underlying issue.

If you’re experiencing severe shifts in mood or mood changes that cause extreme disruption in typical behavior, you should talk with a doctor. They can help you determine the causes of your shifts in mood and help you find appropriate treatment. You may need therapy or medications. Lifestyle changes may also help, too.

If your ups and downs aren’t affecting your life regularly, you may be able to manage mood shifts without medical attention. You might be able to regulate your moods if you do the following:

  • Keep a schedule. Try to create a routine for yourself, especially when it comes to eating and sleeping.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercising regularly has numerous benefits for nearly all aspects of your health, including mood.
  • Get sufficient sleep. A good night’s sleep is important as sleep deprivation can affect your mood.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Diet can improve your mood. Here are some tips for sticking to a balanced diet.
  • Practice relaxation. Engage in calming practices like yoga or meditation.
  • Avoid stress. Easier said than done, right? If you can’t avoid it, aim to manage and relieve stress as it comes.
  • Express yourself. Find a creative outlet to express yourself.
  • Talk it out. Find someone to talk with, such as a friend, family member, or professional counselor.

Keeping a journal to record your moods might also help you determine why you experience them. Look for patterns and avoid situations or activities that directly impact your mood. Sharing the mood journal with your doctor can also help with your diagnosis.

Keep in mind that shifts in mood can vary in severity. Experiencing a range of emotions is a part of life. You may need to adjust your lifestyle if you experience occasional mood shifts.

Mood changes that alter your behavior and negatively impact your life or those around you may be serious. Contact your doctor if you feel that severe shifts in mood are affecting your daily life or if you’ve been feeling out of sorts for an extended period. These could be symptoms of a health condition.