We’ve all been there. The stresses of the day start to add up, and you feel your shoulders tightening and your heart rate and blood pressure start to come up. You may find yourself lashing out at those around you, even if they don’t have anything to do with the stress you’re feeling. Or maybe you feel great in the morning only to be depressed or anxious by the afternoon.
Emotional outbreaks and stress can be related to problems with your mental health, relationships and career, and lowering your stress levels may help.
How to Tell If Mood Swings Are Caused by Stress
Mood swings can be caused by a variety of things, from medication reactions to mental illnesses. But stress is one of the major causes of mood swings for many people. Simply put, every body has its breaking point. Stressors — from getting stuck in traffic to having a fight with your partner — trigger your fight-or-flight response.
Normally, this is good. It’s your body sensing that there’s an issue and preparing to protect you from any perceived danger. But when those stressors are constant or start to stack up, your body can only maintain fight-or-flight mode for so long before there are other negative effects — including mood swings.
Some signs that your mood swings may be caused by stress include:
- Your mood is more stable in the morning and gets more erratic as the day progresses
- You experience mood swings after interacting with challenging people
- You feel constantly on edge
- You’re worried about how you’re going to meet basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter
What Does a Stress-Induced Breakdown Look and Feel Like?
Stress-induced mood swings can look different in each person. Some people may find they get more depressed, sleep more and withdraw from the outside world. Others may find they get more hyped up, experiencing periods of extreme hyperactivity and anxiety. If mood swings aren’t managed, they can lead to a full stress-induced breakdown. You may find you’re unable to deal with normal daily activities, are quick to snap at people and are prone to angry or tearful outbursts.
If you experience any of the following symptoms of a breakdown, it’s important to seek help:
- Racing heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Turning to substance or alcohol abuse to numb your feelings
- Engaging in self-harm behaviors
Dealing with stress can be hard
Stress is bad news. Stress is very much like depression in that it can pile up on you and before you know it, you’re feeling lost and out of touch. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless. However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad. In this text we shall be focusing on stress that is bad for you.
Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless. However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad. New research supports that the idea of stress is not just in our heads, stress is real and can have a direct impact on how we react emotionally.
Stress can increase fear and anxiety
Medical Xpress reports that new research from New York University found that even mild stress has an impact on our emotional response. Their findings, which appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the limits of clinical techniques while also shedding new light on the barriers that must be overcome in addressing afflictions such as fear or anxiety.
The team of neuroscientists came to their findings after conducting the following studies:
On the first day, the researchers created a fear among the study’s participants using a commonly employed “fear conditioning” technique. After the fear conditioning procedure, the participants were taught cognitive strategies—akin to those prescribed by therapists and collectively titled cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)—in order to learn to diminish the fears brought on by the experiment.
On the next day, the participants were put into two groups: “the stress group” and “the control group.” In the stress group, participants’ hands were submerged in icy water for three minutes—a standard method for creating a mild stress response in psychological studies. In the control group, subjects’ hands were submerged in mildly warm water. To determine that the participants in the stress group were, in fact, stressed, the researchers gauged each participant’s levels of salivary cortisol, which the human body is known to produce in response to stress. Those in the stress group showed a significant increase in cortisol following the stress manipulation, whereas there was no change in the control group.
“Our results suggest that even mild stress, such as that encountered in daily life, may impair the ability to use cognitive techniques known to control fear and anxiety,” added Candace Raio, a doctoral student in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the study’s lead author. “However, with practice or after longer intervals of cognitive training, these strategies may become more habitual and less sensitive to the effects of stress.”
How to Get Help
If your emotional outbreaks and stress levels are interfering with your relationships, work or overall well-being, it’s time to seek help. At FHE Health, we can help you understand where your mood swings are coming from and if they’re stress related. Our trained staff can help you learn the tools and coping skills you need for managing stress and stabilizing your moods. For more information, contact us today at (833) 596-3502.