Hormones and Mood

Posted on
September 30, 2020

Hormone and Mood Changes in Women

Most people experience shifts in mood in one way or another. Such shifts may be subtle or can be extreme. In most cases, it is  normal to have days where you feel sad or days when you feel overjoyed. It is common to experience mood changes 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. As long as mood changes do not interfere with life or cause damage to your life, they are generally considered to be healthy. So how do you know if shifts in mood are something to be concerned about or normal? If you switch from extremely happy to extremely depressed on a regular basis and day-to-day life is being disrupted by these shifts, you may want to consider having this evaluated by a medical provider to discuss possible reasons for why you might be experiencing them. Some causes of rapid changes in behavior can be related to mental health, hormones, substance use, or other health conditions.  Examples of ways that mood shifts can be detrimental to your life include:

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

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

Premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that occur in women 1-2 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%) 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 is not completely clear why this time in the cycle causes these symptoms. Researcher suggests that shifts in the hormone estrogen are most likely the cause. In the days and weeks before a period, estrogen levels rise and fall dramatically. They level out 1-2 days after menstruation begins. These shifts may affect mood and behavior.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) s a more severe and rare type of PMS. PMDD affects about 5% of women. 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 impacts 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.

Mental Health Conditions

Many psychological disorders and behavioral conditions can affect disposition and cause symptoms like shifts in mood. Treating these conditions will most likely ease the symptoms of extreme mood shifts and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. Examples of mental health conditions include but are not limited to:

  • Bipolar disorder is a condition where emotions range from extremely happy to extremely sad. But changes in mood associated with bipolar disorder generally only occur a few times a year, even in rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
  • Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a mild mood disorder similar to bipolar disorder — emotions go up and down but are less severe than bipolar disorder.
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a condition in which you experience extreme sadness for a long period of time. MDD is also  called clinical depression.
  • Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder (PDD), s a chronic form of depression.
  • Personality disorders can result in rapid changes in mood in a relatively short period of time.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is typically only diagnosed in children. This is associated with outbursts that are not on target with a child’s developmental stage.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD)
  • Schizophrenia

It is important to understand that most mental health conditions are manageable with a number of or combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and psychotherapy.

Hormone imbalances

Hormones imbalances can also cause shifts in mood. This is because hormones can affect brain chemistry. Hormone fluctuations occur commonly in adolescents, teenagers, women who are pregnant and women going through menopause. These women may experience shifts in mood as a result. Fluctuations in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone may play a role in premenstrual or non-cycle related shifts in mood. Other hormone- and vitamin-deficiencies can also affect mood.  Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, is a common hormone disorder that 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.
  • Pregnancy can cause fluctuations in hormone levels that can lead to changes in emotions and mood. Pregnant women also will often experience physical changes and emotional stress that can make issues like mood shifts and emotional outpourings more severe.
  • Menopause is another time of hormone transition that can be associated with significant 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. 

Substance use

Significant shifts in mood can happen when people use drugs or drink alcohol. 

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 extreme mood changes occur due to an underlying medical condition or another factor, certain things can trigger them. This includes:

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

How to Treat Significant Changes in Mood

It’s possible to stabilize your mood and improve your health in order to avoid future shifts in mood and emotions. Some treatment methods you can do on your own and can try at home. Other treatments, including prescription medicines, are sometimes used.

Get regular exercise

Being active and exercising are great for 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. 

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar

These stimulants and depressants can alter your disposition, often causing mood shifts or making mood shifts worse. Caffeine can also exacerbate anxiety and nervousness. Alcohol is a depressant that can worsen bad moods or make you behave irrationally. Sugary foods can cause swings in your blood sugar level. Cut back on these food items as much as possible to maintain stable moods.

Calcium supplements

Evidence suggests that calcium supplements may help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and emotional fluctuation from PMS. In addition to helping with shifts in mood, calcium supplements may help protect bones from deterioration; this is especially important for perimenopausal women. 

Change your diet

Eating small meals throughout the day has been shown to be better for mood stability. The reason is that blood sugar shifts following large meals may contribute to emotional shifts. Smaller meals, divided throughout the day, help stabilize your blood sugar to keep these shifts in mood minimal.

Practice stress management

Stress and anxiety can make mood swings worse.  Learning to manage the stress can help you avoid 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 often minimize irritability and extreme changes in mood. The goal is to get 7-8 hours per night. If that seems too much compared to what you are used to, try adding increments of 30 extra minutes.


Keeping a journal to record significant shifts in mood might help you determine the reasons you experience them. Look for patterns and try to avoid situations or activities that directly impact your mood. Sharing the mood journal with your healthcare provider can also also help with your diagnosis.

When to See a Doctor

If trying some of the above suggestions do not help or if your shifts in mood interfere with daily life and are becoming more problematic, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss what is happening. While many of the underlying causes for mood shifts are easy to diagnose and treat, some others may require additional treatment. 

The Bottom Line

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 to get back to feeling normal if you experience occasional mood shifts in mood. You should take mood changes that alter your behavior and negatively impact your life or those around you seriously. Contact your doctor if you feel that severe shifts in mood have taken over your daily life or if you’ve been feeling out of sorts for an extended period of time. These could be symptoms of a health condition.