Written by Van Tran

We all experience changes in our mood throughout the day. Many daily factors and events can trigger these feelings. Some days, our moods fluctuate more than others. However, if your mood swing is intense and disrupts your daily life, consulting a practitioner for a thorough assessment may be your next step. It is not uncommon to struggle with your mental health. You are not alone. Reaching out to a loved one or looking into support groups can help relieve some anxiety and answer your questions.

Many people live fulfilling lives with these conditions and there is hope. Let’s look into the following disorders that can cause mood swings.

Bipolar Disorder and Cyclothymic Disorders

Bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder are both mood disorders that are characterized by cycles of mood fluctuation. A cycle usually starts with either a manic or hypomanic episode and is followed by a depressive episode. Each episode presents certain mood traits. People with cyclothymic disorder experience milder symptoms than those with bipolar disorder.

The manic episode happens in bipolar I disorder. It lasts at least seven days and can linger up to months. Mania can cause severe impacts on your daily function. When you go through this phase you may need to be hospitalized to be safe. This period is characterized by extreme energy:

  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Feeling elated or high
  • Feeling invincible
  • Having an influx of ideas and thoughts
  • Talking faster than usual
  • Sleeping less without feeling tired

The hypomanic episode happens in bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder and usually lasts a few days up to months. The symptoms are less extreme compared to those in a manic episode and they usually don’t significantly affect daily activities. However, if this is left untreated, it can progress to mania. In a hypomania episode, you will feel:

  • More energetic
  • More cheerful
  • More motivated

After a manic or hypomanic episode, you will experience a depressive episode. This period lasts at least two weeks and may require medical attention if it becomes severe as it can lead to self-harm. It is characterized by these feelings:

  • Sadness or anxiety
  • Fatigue or no energy
  • Lack of motivation or interest
  • Worthlessness or hopelessness

To read more about bipolar and cyclothymic disorders visit:

NIMH Bipolar Disorder

MedlinePlus Bipolar Disorder

NAMI Bipolar Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Although Borderline Personality Disorder is defined as a mental illness, not a mood disorder; a very abrupt and intense shift in your mood towards the same person or event is the manifestation of this illness. Your mood varies among these extreme feelings:

  • Anger towards self or others
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sadness and emptiness
  • Dissociation from reality
  • Lack of concern about consequences

Because the intense fluctuation in feelings influences your behaviors and life choices, you will notice a pattern of these in your life:

  • Inconsistent interests and values
  • Unstable relationships
  • Impulsive decisions
  • Risky behaviors

To read more about borderline personality disorder, visit:

NIMH Borderline Personality Disorder

NAMI Borderline Personality Disorder


Depression causes mood changes. While sadness is the most prevalent and persistent mood in depression, irritability and anger are often present as well. Moreover, you can still experience moments of happiness even if you are depressed. There are different types of depression:

  • Major depression: comes and goes but usually lasts at least two weeks and causes disruption in daily activities.
  • Persistent depression: lasts at least two years and causes more severe impacts in life.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): happens with seasonal changes, with depressive mood lasting for four to five months.
  • Perinatal depression: occurs in women during or after pregnancy.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: occurs in women during the week before each menstruation.

To read more about depression, visit:

NIMH Depression

NAMI Depression

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a behavioral disorder that is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. Although ADHD is not a mood disorder, it is usually accompanied by emotion dysregulation. This results in the rapid development of inappropriate emotional responses to challenging situations, such as:

  • Panick attack
  • Frequent frustration
  • Anger outburst
  • Depression

Because of the inability to control your emotion, you can have difficulty holding stable jobs and maintaining relationships.

To read more about ADHD, visit:

American Journal of Psychiatry “Emotion Dysregulation in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”



Are unsure about what you are experiencing and having concerns about your emotions? Reach out to your support system and/or make an appointment with your provider to be evaluated and discuss your next steps. Receiving timely and appropriate treatments is the key to helping you feel better. If you would like to know more about common treatment options, you can check out our next article.

If you have questions about mental health conditions, the mental health care system, or where to find support reach out to our Helpline. Call or text (425)-298-5315 or email helpline@namiseattle.org.

If you or a loved one are in crisis, call or text 988 the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

By Van Tran, R.N.

I am a registered-nurse-turned writer. I want to help shape healthcare into a system where meaningful relationships are built among consumers, employees, and businesses that are based on mutual benefits and respect.

Equipped with not only ample clinical knowledge but also an understanding of consumers’, workers’, and management’s perspectives, I now aspire to spread the knowledge and bring healthcare businesses closer to their consumers. I decided to use the power of writing to achieve this ambition.