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Can Depression Cause Mood Swings?

Man wondering, "Can depression cause mood swings?"

While all of us can think of times when our mood hasn’t exactly been the best, experiencing mood swings as a symptom of depression or bipolar disorder is a much different case. Mood swings are characterized by sudden changes in mood, which can be either positive or negative. For example, you may go from ecstatic to sad the next. Or, you may feel outraged one minute and then be completely calm not long after. Mood swings are highly unpleasant and can feel impossible to deal with alone.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mood swings, it is crucial to seek a professional diagnosis and treatment to prevent the condition from worsening. At Northpoint Recovery, our depression treatment program can help to provide the treatment interventions and guidance needed to help improve quality of life while minimizing symptoms as much as possible. For more information, reach out to our team of depression treatment experts today at 888.687.8014.

Can Depression Cause Mood Swings?

Constant mood swings are a well-known symptom of depression. However, the severity of the mood swings is what helps treatment providers distinguish between depression-caused mood swings and bipolar disorder.

Mood swings may involve sudden or drastic changes in emotions or behaviors that last anywhere from minutes to hours. Mood swing disorder symptoms can include:

  • Extreme, sudden shifts in emotion
  • Irritability
  • Apathy
  • Anger
  • Listlessness
  • Inability to control emotions

People with depression often experience mood swings regularly, making it difficult for them to function in their daily lives. For those with depression, however, these mood shifts are almost always sad mood swings and don’t consist of bouts of anger or impulsivity as often as those who have bipolar disorder.

While some individuals may only experience mild mood changes during their depression, others may suffer from more persistent and extreme mood swings. In these cases, the individual can experience rapid shifts between states of depression and mania or euphoria. This type of mood swing is often seen in individuals who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is a condition characterized by episodes of mania or hypomania followed by depressive episodes.

Mood Swings in Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Depression and bipolar disorder are two distinct mental health conditions. However, they can often be confused due to their shared symptoms. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mood disorder characterized by alternating episodes of extreme highs (manic episodes) and lows (depressive episodes). During a manic episode, an individual may feel very energized, have inflated self-esteem, experience racing thoughts, or become easily distracted. During a depressive episode, an individual may experience sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness.

Depression is more than just feeling down or blue. It’s a serious mental health condition with physical symptoms such as low energy levels and difficulty concentrating. Unlike bipolar disorder, which is associated with cycling between manic and depressive episodes, depression typically consists of a sustained low mood for an extended period of time.

While both depression and bipolar disorder can cause mood swings over the course of days or weeks, the nature of these mood changes can vary in each condition. In people with bipolar disorder, these shifts in emotions tend to be dramatic and sudden—from feeling “on top of the world” during mania to feeling utterly hopeless during a depressive state. By contrast, in people with depression alone, there tends to be less variation between mood states and more of a downward pull toward sadness and lack of motivation.

How Can Depression Treatment Help?

Depression treatment offers various strategies to reduce symptoms and improve life quality. Treatment choice depends on depression severity, personal preferences, and any other health conditions. Common methods are medication, like antidepressants, to balance mood-regulating neurotransmitters, and psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps change negative thoughts and behaviors.

In treating depression, besides medication and psychotherapy, other therapies like interpersonal therapy (IPT) to improve relationships and communication, and problem-solving therapy for coping with life challenges are effective. For treatment-resistant depression, there are several viable options. These include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).

The success of depression treatment varies per individual, often requiring a mix of therapies for optimal results. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mindfulness or relaxation techniques also aid in recovery.

Providing a Targeted Approach to Treatment at Northpoint Recovery

Individuals that experience severe mood swings should seek professional help from a qualified healthcare provider to receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment options that best meet their needs. It is possible to have depression and bipolar disorder simultaneously. However, the only way to receive targeted treatment for your unique case is to obtain a professional diagnosis.

Are you or a loved one looking for more information regarding the symptoms of depression or the meaning of severe mood swings? If so, reach out to our team of treatment experts today at 888.687.8014 or use our online contact form.