Stress Series: How Stress Affects Mood and How a Natural Approach Can Help

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stress-moodIn the last of our series on stress, we will be looking at how stress affects mood and how it can contribute to mood swings. A mood swing is an extreme or rapid change in mood or personality.

Mood swings can last a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days. If mood swings are happening frequently, are disruptive, or lasting for longer periods of time, it might be helpful to seek support in getting to the root cause.

What are Common Causes of Mood Swings?

Healthy brain function requires many important nutrients as well as an active, social lifestyle. Factors such as aging, emotional stress, and exposure to free radicals affect cognitive health and memory function.

Hormone and Neurotransmitter Imbalances
Hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances are often at the root cause of mood swings. Your brain and body chemistry affects the way you think and the way you react, and can make you both more emotional and more prone to rapid negative emotions. Low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, and norepinephrine can lead to anxiety and mood changes. Hormone imbalances (thyroid and sex hormones) can also play a major role in mood swings. 

Mental Fatigue
When people experience more stress than they are able to handle, adrenal and mental fatigue can occur. As a result, people can become much more reactive and emotional when they lose the ability to cope with stressful events.

Stress, Anxiety, and Fear
Stress and anxiety can also create fear, which is a powerful emotion. When you encounter a fearful thought, or a fear-inducing problem, it’s easier for you to have an emotional response. Fear can be so pronounced that you ultimately become more prone to sadness, anger, etc., as a result and experience mood swings.

Depression
Low mood can often be expressed as sadness, agitation, or irritation. With the mental health condition bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, people vacillate between very high and low moods.

Lack of Sleep
Getting too little sleep or poor quality sleep can cause irritability, lack of focus, and rapid mood changes. Studies show that sleep deprivation produces a hyperactive brain response and can negatively affect mood.

Poor Dietary Choices and Low Blood Sugar Levels
When blood sugar levels drop, irritability, fatigue, and agitation can occur. Eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates are most likely to cause the blood sugar crash-and-burn effect. Eating frequent, nutrient-dense snacks and meals (high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber) supports optimal health and promotes healthy blood sugar levels.

Dietary and Lifestyle Support

Healthy Diet
Experts agree that a healthy diet is an important factor in maintaining good health. One key reason is that our diet provides the building blocks for the chemical messengers in our body. When stress depletes nutrients, a good diet can help to replace them.

Enhance Sleep
Create an environment that is suitable for the body to transition to sleep. Suggestions include:

  • Make your bedroom as dark as possible, as darkness signals your brain to sleep
  • Remove sounds
  • Cover digital clocks
  • Limit TV, computer, and phone use prior to going to bed
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime, since caffeine is a chemical that stimulates your brain, making you more awake and alert
  • Use relaxation techniques such as yoga, as they have been shown to help the mind and body transition to a more tranquil state, setting the stage for good sleep.

Practice Healthy Coping Skills

  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice yoga, meditation, and qi gong
  • Create “me” time
  • Declutter your living space, work space and unhealthy relationships
  • Trust yourself
  • Spend time with friends
  • Consider counselling support

Natural Supplements for Mood Support

There may be more than one supplement that will be of benefit, but one nutrient that has been shown to help in all aspects of mood is omega 3. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important, supportive nutrients of cardiovascular health as well as brain, mood, skin, and ocular health.

Pathway SUPER OMEGA-3 is molecularly distilled for purity and contains high concentrations of the essential fatty acids omega-3s EPA & DHA (300 mg & 200 mg respectively).

For more a more personalized and individualized nutritional protocol, contact Village Green Apothecary. We believe in taking a comprehensive approach to supporting your stress and mood swings by addressing the underlying root causes and triggers. We recommend vitamins, minerals, herbs, and homeopathic remedies. Our health experts also suggest specific diets, lifestyle tips, and specialized testing.

Schedule a consultation with one of Village Green’s naturopathic doctors or certified nutritionists for a personal assessment of your unique situation. During your appointment (either by phone or in-person), our professionals will:

  • Review your mood swing symptoms and health history
  • Examine your diet and lifestyle
  • Recommend specialized testing
  • Assess possible drug-nutrient interactions or depletions
  • Answer any questions you may have
  • Evaluate memory loss options
  • Create a customized plan that includes natural solutions, diet and lifestyle recommendations, and custom compounding.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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September 2014
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