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What Is the Connection between Mood Swings and Irritability?

Alex Tree
Updated May 17, 2024
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The connection between mood swings and irritability is strong and seen in many different health problems. Mood swings are a sudden change in mood, whether that change is irritability or extreme happiness; they can occur because of health problems or life changes like bipolar disorder, alcoholism, and puberty. Bipolar disorder in particular is common in people who experience severe mood swings and depression on a regular basis. Alcoholism is also a strong link between mood swings and irritability, especially if the addict goes through withdrawal of alcohol. In addition, menopause can cause mood swings because of a woman’s changing body, similar to why growing children experience mood swings.

Mood swings and irritability are sometimes caused by a type of depression. Depression of most kinds usually does not have mood swings as a symptom, though. People who have depression often feel sad all the time, without sudden bouts of happiness. On the other hand, bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is a mental health problem that causes a person to experience mood highs and lows. In this case, the mood swing lows could result in irritability rather than sadness.

Alcoholism has been linked to both mood swings and irritability. People with drinking problems often exhibit mood issues after heavy drinking or even before. Furthermore, irritability and mood swings are both symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Therefore, if a person who has been consuming large, regular amounts of alcohol suddenly stops, these symptoms typically present themselves. The precise types of mood swings experienced by alcoholics can vary dramatically, from extremely sad to extremely happy and everything in between.

Women undergoing menopause often experience mood symptoms, such as mood swings and irritability. Menopause occurs when a woman’s reproductive system stops working normally and she becomes unable to bear children. This condition involves major hormonal changes, which is one of the reasons that mood issues are believed to be common. It is possible that mood symptoms are not directly associated with menopause but more closely linked to other issues that often present at the same time as menopause, such as diseases and thyroid issues.

Mood swings and irritability often occur during puberty, the time in a child’s life when he or she develops into an adult with reproductive capacity. This takes place because of the hormones that are released during puberty. While the main purpose of these hormones is to facilitate growth and maturation, they can result in unwanted side effects. Not all pubescent children experience these symptoms, though it is common. Sometimes, more serious depression or mood disorders are mistaken for normal mood swings and irritability.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Alex Tree
By Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGeek contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Andrew McDowell is a talented writer and WiseGeek contributor. His unique perspective and ability to communicate complex ideas in an accessible manner make him a valuable asset to the team, as he crafts content that both informs and engages readers.
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