Mood Swings During Pregnancy

What's up with those out-of-control emotions and how to deal.
ByMaria Kammerer and Paula Kashtan
March 31, 2017
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Image: Irina Efremova

What are mood swings during pregnancy?

Are you snapping at your partner one minute, and wanting to hug them the next? Crying over every sappy commercial? Or what about crying and laughing at the same time? Yup, those are mood swings. They’re a completely normal part of pregnancy resulting from those crazy hormones, but you should monitor them closely, especially if you have a history of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems, since mood swings could actually be a sign of depression.

What could be causing my mood swings during pregnancy?

The easy answer is hormones. They get blamed—and rightfully so—for many of pregnancy’s discomforts. Especially during your first trimester, the levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone in your body change dramatically, which has a significant effect on brain chemistry. But hormones aren’t the only cause. Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, whether it’s your first child or your fifth, having a baby is a life-changing experience. People have normal anxieties and worries about the health of their unborn child, the pregnancy, finances and their ability to parent…to name a few. With all this to think about, it’s no wonder you’re experiencing mood swings.

The tricky part here is that mood swings are sometimes signs of conditions like depression, anemia, gestational diabetes, hyperthyroidism or migraines.

When should I go to the doctor with my mood swings during pregnancy?

If your mood swings seem very severe, you should see your doctor. Also, if you’ve had anxiety, depression or other mental health problems before, or have a family history of them, you should see your doctor so she can check for depression. Or if they’re accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, a change in eating habits, feelings of guilt or an inability to concentrate, it could also be a sign of depression.

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What should I do to treat my mood swings during pregnancy?

If it’s mood swings and not depression, you can take stress-reduction classes or go to couples counseling. You can also try prenatal yoga, meditation and exercise. Make sure you maintain a  healthy diet consisting of whole foods and small, frequent meals. Drops in blood sugar levels can increase your mood swings.

Get your partner involved. The more your partner knows about your mood swings and techniques for reducing their severity and frequency, the better for both of you. This is also a good time to turn to your friends, family and online community for support and understanding.

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