Moods can be positive or negative, often cycling through various emotions throughout the day. You may get “hangry” if you are overly hungry, frustrated if a project you have been working on hits a snag, happy when you hear good news, and excited when something exceptional occurs.
These changes are a natural aspect of emotional rhythm, and the more you understand what factors can influence mood and how you can regulate your responses, the better able you will be to avoid significant highs and lows that could occur.
Mood changes can become problematic when they start to control your life. A “mood disorder” is a medical condition that requires treatment by a healthcare professional as it can lead to potentially severe issues. It is natural to feel moody sometimes, but not so if you let those moods consume you.
Factors that can influence mood changes include:
- Job deadlines, loss, or other work-related stressors
- Life events – death, divorce
- Hormone changes
- The news
- The weather
- Unpleasant interactions with others
- Relationship problems
- Money issues
- Alcohol or drug use
- Poor nutrition
- Physical illness
- Chronic or acute pain
- Mental or cognitive disorders
- Lack of physical activity
- Living environment
Most people will find that the factors listed above are well-known affecters of mood changes. Some, such as the living environment, may be surprising until you understand how the lack of a secure home, green spaces, noise, and air pollution can impact your mood.
People also respond differently to similar situations. What bothers one person may not affect another due to differences in temperament and how they deal with stressors. Some people are naturally optimistic no matter what is happening in their lives, while others remain pessimistic even in the best of times. Upbringing and genetics can also affect how we handle mood influencers.
Positive mood feelings show up in the following ways:
- Sense of well-being
Negative mood feelings may show up in these ways:
The Difference Between Mood Swings In Men and Women
Most people would quickly say that women are more emotional than men, yet research from the University of Michigan says otherwise. It is actually the interpretation of the feeling or mood between the genders that is where the difference lies.
One example is when a man becomes “passionate” during a sporting event, yet a woman is viewed as “irrational.” Women were divided into four groups based on their natural cycles or one of three types of oral contraceptives. The study found that hormones are not the only factors in dealing with emotional highs and lows. One interesting facet of the study was that men showed a bit more mood variability than women.
Perhaps one of the most telling studies focused on major depressive disorder (MDD), a severe mental illness that causes lost productivity and disability. MDD increases organ and systemic disease development and progression, including type 2 diabetes. People with MDD may suffer from cognitive decline, weight and physical changes, sleep issues, and anxiety.
Men are less likely to receive an MDD diagnosis than women but are more likely to have a co-morbid substance abuse disorder suggesting that is their coping mechanism with depression. Women typically have more and higher severity symptoms, along with a co-morbid anxiety disorder. One reason more women receive an MDD diagnosis is that they are more likely to seek help than men.
Researchers found that both genders had equal physiological responses when faced with the same stressful situation, yet women reported more fear and irritability than men.
Effects of a Drop in Estrogen and Progesterone in Women
Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones crucial to women and men. Every person needs all hormones, just in varying degrees.
Estrogen and progesterone come from cholesterol synthesis as part of a multi-step process. Progesterone is a precursor hormone to testosterone, which is a precursor to estradiol, the leading form of estrogen. While women have higher progesterone and estrogen and lower testosterone levels than men, the situation is reversed for males.
Along with their many roles in the reproductive system, estrogen and progesterone have other functions. Estrogen influences bone density, heart health, fat retention, muscle mass, blood sugar levels, brain function, cholesterol levels, and circulation. Progesterone helps maintain a positive mood and supports thyroid function, sleep, fertility, and bone strength.
Women with low estrogen levels may experience the following:
- Mood swings, low mood, anxiety, and irritability
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal changes (dryness and wall thinning) and painful intercourse
- Low libido
- Joint and muscle aches
- Itchy skin
- Brittle bones
- Trouble concentrating
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Irregular periods
Women with low progesterone levels may experience the following:
- Mood changes or anxiety
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Sleep disturbances
- Trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term
Estrogen and progesterone are not the only issues women may face that can impact their mood and well-being. Human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone deficiencies can also be problematic for women and men. We explore those two hormones in the next section.
Effects of Changing Hormone Levels in Men
Changing hormone levels can impact men as negatively as they do women. Low estrogen can also cause a man to gain weight (belly fat), lose muscle mass and bone density, and suffer from decreased sex drive, cognitive functions, fatigue, and depression. Progesterone deficiency can cause erectile dysfunction, prostate enlargement, nervousness, low libido, and fatigue.
As unpleasant as those symptoms sound, the situation worsens when men have low HGH or testosterone levels. Except for the loss of morning erections and erectile dysfunction, all testosterone and HGH deficiency effects are similar for men and women.
According to Hormone Clinic for men, HGH and testosterone are the leading hormones that can influence mood and behavior in males. As men age, their testosterone and HGH levels gradually drop. That can lead to the following:
- Poor mood and depression
- Poor concentration
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Poor circulation
- Joint and muscle aches
- Weight gain around the stomach
- Bone and muscle loss
- Low self-esteem and body image
- Decreased immune system functions
Changing hormone levels affect mood directly and indirectly. While these hormones work directly on emotional health, they also change the body’s appearance and functions, which can further change self-image and lead to increased depression.
If you feel depressed, tired, moody, anxious, stressed, or out of sorts, your hormones could be telling you their levels are too low. Getting help from a hormone specialist can significantly improve your quality of life.
Men are just as moody and emotional as women – even if they do not want to admit it. Keeping these feelings bottled up and ignoring them can only cause additional problems for your well-being. Some coping mechanisms can help you learn to deal with your emotions and the situations that may cause them to get out of control.