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Do My Mood Swings Mean I’m Bipolar?

We all experience changes in our moods—sometimes we feel up, and then out of nowhere we feel down. Some of us seem to go through these mood changes more often than others. And for some of us, the transition from high to low is so quick and so unexpected that we have trouble getting through the day.


If you are having mood swings, does that mean you have bipolar disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings—from mania to depression—that are unusually severe and make it difficult to think clearly and to function in day-to-day life. And, while we all experience mood swings at times, less than 3 percent of American adults experience bipolar disorder each year.


Keep in mind that some of us are more sensitive than others; we just feel more emotions more strongly and are more affected by other’s moods and by outside forces.


Mood swings have many causes other than bipolar disorder:


  • Hormones

Especially women, but men too, have shifts in hormones at different times in their lives, which cause unpredictable changes in mood.


  • Medication

Many medications have side effects that can include depression or mood changes. Some surprising culprits include:


    • Antibiotics
    • Anticonvulsants
    • Beta blockers, which are commonly prescribed for high blood pressure
    • Hormone replacement therapy
    • Prescription painkillers
    • Statins, which are commonly prescribed for high cholesterol


  • Being hungry

Some people are more sensitive to changes in blood sugar, which affects the brain and can cause mood swings, not just in diabetics, but in anyone. If you’ve ever been “hangry” you know what this feels like.


  • Being tired

People who aren’t getting enough sleep often feel stressed out, irritable, anxious or depressed. In most cases, when they sleep well, their mood improves.


If you’re concerned about your mood swings, talking to a licensed professional therapist is the best way to find out if you’re at risk for mental illness. Get help when you need it right from your phone or tablet–visit for more information. Your care, anywhere.