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    What are some of the causes of mood swings? Your emotional ups and downs explained

    Updated 19 January 2023 |
    Published 05 December 2022
    Fact Checked
    Dr. Sara Twogood
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Sara Twogood, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group, California, US
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    Mood swings are widely accepted as a part of growing up, right? But there’s often a little more to it than just feeling snappier than normal. Here, a Flo expert explains what mood swings are and how you can manage them.

    Mood swings can impact the way you feel about the people closest to you. They’re one of the reasons why being a teenager can be complicated. You might have some days when you feel too sad or exhausted to do anything other than get back under the covers. Other times, you might snap at a friend without being entirely sure why they irritated you so much. 

    If you’re experiencing a roller coaster of emotions, it can feel pretty isolating. But it’s likely that many of your friends are feeling the same. It might help to understand a little bit more about what causes your mood swings, so we asked pediatric gynecologist Professor Beth Schwartz, Pennsylvania, US to share what exactly mood swings are, what might cause them, and if there’s anything you can do to manage them. 

    Mood swings meaning: What exactly are they?

    While they can be a nightmare when you’re experiencing them, mood swings are pretty much what they sound like — a quick and unexplained change in your mood. But before you go writing yourself off as a “moody teenager,” let’s dig into why they can actually be totally normal. 

    “Mood swings or changes are different for everyone,” says Dr. Schwartz. “Some people describe feeling down, some are more emotional (they may find themselves crying more than usual or for no reason), or some feel more irritable or even angry (little things annoy them or set them off that usually wouldn’t).”

    Needless to say, mood changes can impact almost every aspect of your life. “[They] can range from nonexistent to a mild annoyance to having an enormous impact on life and people’s ability to go to school, participate in activities, and even function,” says Dr. Schwartz. So try not to be too hard on yourself if you’re finding you’re a little bit up and down sometimes.

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    What causes mood swings? 

    Along with finding new body hair and your boobs growing, mood swings are often treated as a regular part of growing up, and they typically aren’t anything to worry about. 

    “There are so many things that can cause changes in mood. Stress, irregular eating and sleeping, and drama with friends or school can definitely affect moods, as well as anything more serious going on with health or life,“ explains Dr. Schwartz. 

    You might be able to blame late-night TikTok sessions or a misunderstanding with a friend for your irritation — but there is actually some science behind mood swings, too. During your teenage years, your brain changes and develops rapidly. While you’re working out whether blue hair is the right color for you, your cognitive development (that’s the way your brain processes language, information, and emotions) is working in overdrive to help you grow into the adult version of yourself. You may start to create and express your own ideas, questions, and ways of thinking. This is really healthy, although it might not always feel that way. 

    This process is influenced by lots of different factors, and they can all play into how you feel. They include: 

    Puberty and hormonal changes

    As mentioned above, if you’re a teen and feel like your moods can be a little bit all over the place, then puberty may be to blame. “Mood swings definitely increase after puberty due to both internal and external fact