Anxiety Mood Swings Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 18, 2021

Why does anxiety cause mood swings?

Because there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety-like sensations and symptoms, including mood swings, we recommend that all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms be discussed with your doctor. If your doctor concludes that your symptoms are caused solely from anxiety and/or stress, you can be assured that there isn’t another medical condition causing them. Generally, most doctors can easily differentiate between stress and anxiety caused sensations and symptoms from those caused by other medical conditions.

If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, however, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. But if all three opinions agree, you can feel confident that anxiety and/or stress is the cause of your symptoms and not some other medical or biological problem.

Regarding anxiety and/or stress caused mood swings, there are many reasons why anxiety can cause them. Five of the most common include:

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1. Stress hormones and how they affect other hormones

Behaving apprehensively activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they immediately travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

When stress responses occur infrequently, the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes are temporary and end when the stress response ends. In this instance, the stress response brings about its desired effect and then ceases. As a result, these desired effects are short-term – from a few minutes to 30 minutes or so.

Because these effects are short-term, they don’t impact the body long-term. When stress responses occur too frequently, however, the effects of the stress response can cause problems with normal body functions.

Hormones can affect mood. Moreover, hormones can affect other hormones, such as causing some to rise and some to fall. When stress hormones affect the hormones that affect mood, these fluctuations can cause sudden mood swings. In this case, mood swings can be caused by the adverse effects of persistent apprehensive behavior and/or stress, and how these affect stress hormones and their effect on the body.

With this in mind, persistently elevated stress from sources other than behavior can also affect mood.

2. Overly taxed resources

The body’s energy levels can also affect mood. Too frequent and/or dramatic stress responses can tax the body’s energy resources harder than normal. This can leave the body tired, exhausted, and depleted of energy, which can affect mood. Behaving overly apprehensively is a common cause of fatigue and low mood.

3. Behaviors

Feelings are byproducts of our behaviors (the ways we think and act). Recovery Support members can read more about this in Chapter 6.

If you are behaving erratically, that can cause erratic mood swings. Behavior is a common cause of mood swings, especially apprehensive behavior since it can cause and affect powerful hormones.

4. Medication

Because of how psychotropic medications affect the brain, mood altering medications, such as anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, are a common cause of mood swings.

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5. Diet

Research has shown the diet can play an important role in mood and mood stabilization. For example, natural and whole foods generally keep moods stable because of the many nutrients they contain and how the body metabolizes them. Fast, junk, and high sugar foods, however, can cause a number of problems in the body, including mood swings and mood instability.

There are other reasons, too. These are the most common. We describe the other reasons in Chapter 9 in the Recovery Support area of our website.

How to get rid of anxiety mood swings?

The main cause of anxiety mood swings is apprehensive behavior and how the resulting stress hormones affect the body. In this case, dealing with your apprehensive behavior will eliminate anxiety mood swings symptoms.

There are many ways to address overly apprehensive behavior. The most effective way is to work with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor, such as those affiliated with anxietycentre.com

As your apprehensive behaviors are addressed, your anxiety mood swings symptoms should diminish.

When mood swings are caused by stress, reducing the body’s stress can also eliminate mood swings.

When mood swings are caused by medication, talking with your doctor and pharmacist could be of assistance. Sometimes a dosage change can help. And at other times, switching to a different medication can help.

When mood swings are caused by diet, switching away from foods that adversely affect mood can provide lasting relief. For more specific help, you may want to work with a Natural Nutritional Therapist, such as our Liliana Tosic, for more precise recommendations and realistic expectations.

Recovery Support members can access more information about anxiety mood swings symptoms and ways to eliminate them in the Recovery Support area.
Play the clip below for Jim Folk's commentary about the anxiety mood swings. Jim Folk is the president of anxietycentre.com.


Mood swings are a common symptom of elevated stress, including the stress anxiety can cause. Jim Folk experienced severe mood swings during his 12 year struggle with anxiety disorder.

For a more detailed explanation about all anxiety symptoms, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Anxiety Mood Swings anxiety symptoms.