“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Anxiety And Mood Swings

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: September 8, 2019

Anxiety Mood Swings Symptoms

Mood Swings Anxiety Symptoms descriptions:

Common descriptions include:

  • You feel that your emotions are unstable.
  • You feel upbeat and positive one moment then down and blue the next.
  • You feel like your emotions are good one moment then wrong the next.
  • You feel like your emotions are all over the place.
  • You feel your emotions are unusually erratic.
  • You don’t feel like your emotional self.
  • Your emotions are more unpredictable than usual without any good reason.
  • It doesn't seem to be any reason why your emotions and feelings are all over the place.

Anxiety mood swings symptoms can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel emotionally unstable once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.

Anxiety mood swings symptoms may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Anxiety mood swings symptoms can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Anxiety mood swings symptoms can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

Anxiety mood swings symptoms can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

Why does anxiety cause mood swings?

Medical Advisory

We recommend all new, changing, persistent, and returning anxiety symptoms be discussed with your doctor as some medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms, including this anxiety symptom. If your doctor concludes your symptoms are solely anxiety-related, you can be confident there isn't a medical cause. Generally, doctors can easily determine the difference between anxiety symptoms and those caused by a medical condition.

Doctors aren't infallible, however. If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, you can seek a second or more opinions. But if all opinions agree, you can be assured anxiety is the cause of this symptom.

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

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.

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 is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

Return to our anxiety symptoms, disorders, causes, treatment page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/counseling/therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including anxiety mood swings symptoms.