Rapid Mood Swings and Emotional Dysregulation

It’s normal for our moods to fluctuate. Throughout the day, different situations can trigger changes in our emotional states. However, we refer to ongoing and frequent emotional dysregulation, which is a difficulty in managing and controlling emotions. This results in intense and disproportionate emotional reactions, often disrupting the most important people and aspects of our lives. Emotion dysregulation can lead to frequent mood swings, impulsivity, and challenges in interpersonal relationships, commonly associated with mental health conditions and mood disorders. If you’re struggling with sudden mood swings, our dedicated psychologists are here to help you effectively manage symptoms so you can enjoy life’s most important moments.

Difficulties in regulating or managing emotions and when to seek support

While emotions naturally play a role in our lives and can serve as protective mechanisms, when emotions become disproportionately intense or erratic, it may indicate an underlying mental health concern. Seeking professional guidance from a psychologist or psychiatrist can provide valuable insights and support in addressing these emotional challenges and any associated mental health conditions.

Mood swings can be associated with a range of emotions, including:

  • Increased irritability where even minor annoyances can trigger strong negative reactions
  • Heightened anxiety or restlessness
  • Periods of low mood and sadness
  • Elevated excitement that may lead to impulsive behaviour
  • Increased anger or frustration
  • Intense feelings of happiness or euphoria
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Rapid cycling involving shifting between different emotional states multiple times within a short period

A rapid shift in mood can vary widely among individuals, and their causes can be complex, often involving a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. It is recommended to reach out to a psychologist with experience in emotion dysregulation to explore a suitable plan to manage symptoms.

We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.

Brené Brown

Here are some ways that mood swings can impact your behaviour:

  • Deliberate self-injury to cope with emotional pain
  • Increased impulsivity, accidents, poor judgment due peak in elation and euphoria
  • Using drugs or alcohol excessively to manage mood swings
  • Escalating substance abuse to numb emotional turmoil
  • Expressing mood swings through physical violence or aggression
  • Verbal or physical abuse towards others, including loved ones
  • Avoiding social interactions and isolating oneself
  • Neglecting relationships with friends and family
  • Loneliness decreases social support and worsens mood
  • Poor judgment and decision-making during mood swings
  • Difficulty considering consequences of actions
  • Negative impact on personal and professional life, including legal and financial problems

Here are some ways that mood swings can impact your thinking:

  • Experiencing frequent distorted and negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Self-criticism, feelings of worthlessness, and excessive guilt
  • Irrational fears and catastrophic thoughts about the future
  • Excessive worry and anxiety resulting in a constant state of unease
  • Ruminate on past events or obsessively worry about the future
  • Hinder your ability to concentrate and stay focused
  • Thoughts may wander and make it challenging to complete tasks or make decisions
  • Impulsive and risky ideas enter your thoughts during high-mood periods
  • Poor decision-making and potentially harmful actions
  • Selectively focus on negative aspects of situations
  • Positive elements are often ignored or discounted

Here are some ways that mood swings can impact you feel:

  • Rapid shifts in emotions from extreme highs to profound lows
  • Intense joy which is followed by sudden bouts of sadness or irritability
  • Feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness or hopelessness during low moods
  • The emotional burden of overwhelming sadness can make even routine tasks feel daunting
  • High mood swings may result in heightened irritability and frustration.
  • Frequent mood swings can leave you emotionally exhausted
  • The constant rollercoaster of emotions can drain your energy and resilience
  • The feeling of emptiness and guilt and loss of pleasure in activities
  • Enthusiasm and grandiosity result that lead to increased risks

The future depends on what you do today.

Mahatma Gandhi

Can an exaggerated emotional response be a sign of underlying mental health issues?

It is typically the case that persistent experiences of disproportionate emotional responses can serve as an indicator of underlying mental health issues. It’s important to note that emotional responses can vary widely among individuals, and a mental health professional can help assess and diagnose any potential issues. The following conditions may be associated with abnormal emotional responses:


Why is it often challenging to seek support for emotional dysregulation?

We understand that seeking support for emotional difficulties or dysregulation can be challenging due to various factors, including the stigma associated with mental health, a fear of vulnerability, and uncertainty about available resources or who to speak to first. Some individuals may also normalise their emotional struggles or be unsure how to initiate discussions about their feelings. Psychologists are a good source of support who can provide valuable strategies and support to better understand and manage symptoms of emotion dysregulation and associated mood swings and behaviours.


How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology help?

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, our experienced Melbourne psychologists have a special interest in emotion dysregulation  and guiding individuals through management of emotions using evidence-based approaches including Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical-Behavioural Therapy.  

In the journey towards emotional well-being, remember that reaching out for support is a courageous step, and at Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we’re here to walk this path with you, offering guidance and understanding every step of the way.  

Make an Appointment

At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we offer flexible appointments with our psychologists during the day, evening, or weekends, both in-person at our Melbourne psychology practice or online via telehealth.

believe in change and reach progress with a Melbourne psychologist

Our team of psychologists hold full registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and adhere to ethical guidelines as mandated by the Psychologists Registration Board and the Australian Psychological Society. Our clinical practice is grounded in evidence-based treatment approaches, ensuring comprehensive support for emotional dysregulation and mood swings.