Mood swings are a part of life with some mood disorders like bipolar disorder and cyclothymia. Moods go to extremes, either really happy and energetic or really low and depressed. This is a tough way to live because it takes so much energy. Here’s one way to imagine what it’s like to physically experience extreme mood swings.

I really like college football, and I’m especially passionate about my home state alma mater team. I love watching the games, both in person and on TV. Close games, blow-outs, great plays, strategic cliffhanging moments, the whole package. It’s just so exciting, and I totally get into cheering for my team.

High Energy Moods Take a Lot of Energy

When I go to or watch the big game once a week, I find that I’m emotionally spent by the end. I can feel the physical tension of the afternoon leave my body when it ends. Great game or disappointing loss, I’m ready for it to be over. I want to wind down and reflect on the experience. I might take a nap or just hang out for a while, but pretty soon I’ll get back to my normal activities. Short period of time emotionally up, slight dip of low energy, and resolution to the middle.

What if I found a way to watch or be at two great football games a day for as many days in a row as I could stand? The intense focus, the emotional investment, the ups and downs, the adrenaline rushes, the jumping up and down. For a little while, that would be kind of cool. But after about the second game in a row, it would be hard to maintain that kind of energy.

I would love the rush and excitement. But at the same time, I’d start to hate it. The drain of that constant excitement would grate on my nerves. I’d try to convince myself it was still great, even though part of me would try to escape. I would be trapped in the over-energized environment. And at some point, the bottom would fall out.

When High Moods Crash Into Depression

I’d be overspent, worn out, even hate football for a while. I wouldn’t want anything to do with it. My emotions would be fairly low and negative, mostly because those are stark opposites of high and euphoric emotions. I would have let go of other obligations during the week to be at or watch all of those games. And I’d be low on clean laundry, food, and gas for the week. Maybe I even skipped out on my job. All of that would bring me down, too.

Mood swings are so exhausting because of the intensity, the physical exertion, and all the adjustment. A person might keep it up for a while, but eventually the human body just gets too taxed. Living in emotional extremes doesn’t allow for good rest or relaxation. It’s hard to enjoy the gentler milder things in life.

Mood Swings Take Emotions Too Far

I had premenstrual dysphoric disorder several years ago, which is a severe form of PMS. I also had a slight manic mood in the times I wasn’t down with depression. Every two weeks I went through a complete cycle of high and low emotions. The exhaustion was enormous and constant, nothing I wish to repeat anytime soon. Once I was properly diagnosed and treated, I truly appreciated being able to resolve my emotions back to the middle.

I’m an awfully big football fan, and I love being at the big game. But I know better than to wish for all football all the time. It’s much better taking it one game at a time.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 8 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jan 2009
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Mood Swings Are Exhausting. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2015, from


Recent Comments
  • Piniewski MD: Well said. Regardless of our positions on this topic, the behavior :using Dr Google is unlikely to...
  • Starfate: I’m 61 and trying to determine the “best” way to tell my AS spouse that I’m leaving...
  • Theresa: Well I think that is a real shame. Not all therapists are so incongruent. In fact humanistic person-centred...
  • Daisy: I too am feeling the loss of a best friend. She told me that I had been treating her like s*it for the last...
  • Joyous: has short brain breaks for classroom teachers to use. I use them everyday- it really helps!
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 7258
Join Us Now!