Tips for Managing Depression and Mood Swings

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Mood swings and depression often go hand-in-hand. Some days you might wake up feeling really good, and other days you may wake up feeling down. Remember, you’re not alone. Many people with depression have mood swings, too. Here are some simple but effective tips for managing depression and mood swings.

Know Your Triggers

Triggers are things that cause you to feel worse. Everyone is different, so your mood swing triggers may be different from someone else’s. However, there are some very common triggers to keep in mind.

  • Stress—When you’re stressed, your body and mind feel it. Depression and mood swings can cause you to feel more stress, and increased stress can cause your depression and mood swings to worsen. It’s a frustrating cycle.
  • Not sleeping well or enough—When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t recharge its “batteries” properly. This could leave you feeling drained, fatigued, foggy and irritable.
  • Using alcohol or drugs—When you drink too much or abuse drugs, you could cause your mood swings or depression to worsen. Alcohol tends to act as a depressant, and certain drugs may induce extreme temporary euphoria before causing you to crash.
  • A change of season—When the seasons change, you may notice a change in your mood, too. Seasonal depression is not uncommon.
  • Major life events—When something big happens in your life or the life of someone you love, your mood swings and depression may change. Intense emotions could cause you to feel very happy, sad, angry, surprised and more.

Now that you know your triggers, make sure to address them. If you start to notice that you’re feeling more and more stressed, take a few minutes to regroup and breathe. Meditation and breathing techniques may help you feel more centered again.

Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary, and keep it cool, dark and quiet. Don’t surf the web, look at Facebook or watch TV when you’re trying to fall asleep. Remember to be careful when you drink alcohol, and don’t overdo it.

When the seasons change, remember that seasonal depression is a real thing. You may want to ask your doctor about tips to manage seasonal depression. While you can’t control a major life event, remember to rely on the support of your family and friends.

Connect Food with Mood

Have you ever heard the saying, “you are what you eat?” People often eat certain foods based on how they are feeling. If you’ve had a bad day, you may have gone home and reached for some “comfort” food or hit the drive-thru window for a burger and fries. But, eating these foods regularly could actually make you feel worse.

On the other hand, if you had a really great day, you may have gone home and cooked a healthy dinner. While we don’t typically know we’re doing it, we connect food with our mood. And, when it comes to managing depression and mood swings, it might be time to connect food and mood in a different way.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet has the potential to help you feel better simply by boosting your self-esteem. You’ll feel good about accomplishing your goal to eat healthier. In fact, some studies have shown that eating fish like salmon and tuna can help you get more omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to improve your mood.

Exercise is Good for Body and Mind

Exercise and physical activity can actually relieve stress. Plus, regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy body. You could feel better about how you look and feel.

Before starting or changing your exercise routine, remember to talk with your doctor. Your doctor may have tips and recommendations to help you reach your goals.

Even gentle exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are great options. They can help promote relaxation, flexibility and balance. They also include breathing techniques that can help calm the mind.

Start slowly and build your activity level over time. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or at a gym all the time. Ask a friend to go for a brisk walk outside with you, or head out for a bike ride along a nature trail. Look up local yoga or Tai Chi classes, or try a community-based team sport.

Seek Help

You don’t have to manage your depression and mood swings alone. Sometimes, even while practicing healthy lifestyle habits, depression and mood swings may make you feel stressed, overwhelmed, angry or even more depressed.

Seeking the help of a trained and licensed mental health professional is important. Counselors and therapists have special training and can offer you additional coping strategies.

For example, your therapist may recommend that you write in a journal. Your journal can be about anything you want, including your feelings.

You can also rely on your family and friends for support, or try a giving a help hotline a call.

You may feel frustrated by your depression and mood swings sometimes. But, along with seeing your counselor regularly, give these simple tips a try, so you can start feeling better.

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