One minute you’re feeling fine – dinner is on the table, your family is chatting away about their days, and it’s a perfectly ordinary evening. Except, the next thing you know, you’re snapping at your husband, and then your children, using clipped tones as your voice raises. You can feel the situation escalating, you see the unease on their faces, but you feel powerless to stop it. And you can’t even remember what set you off in the first place, or why it was so important. If you're tired of not knowing the causes of mood swings, read on!
This emotional rollercoaster – calm and even-keeled one minute, to snapping and impatient the next, is a story I hear often from my patients and my heart instantly goes out to them.
It can be frustrating and even heartbreaking to feel this loss of control, to not know how you’re going to feel or how you’ll react from one minute to the next, and to feel like it’s coming out of nowhere.
Causes of Mood Swings: Mystery Solved!
The truth is that these mood changes are frequently a symptom of an underlying health issue. When a patient comes into my office and tells me she’s experiencing bouts of moodiness and irritability, that signals to me that we need to look for clues as to what’s happening inside of her body to trigger this response. And when we piece together these clues, we are able to address the true reason for the dinnertime outbursts or morning meltdowns, and the source is often a surprise to my patients.
In fact, the number one root cause behind mood swings that I see in my patients is a gut health issue! That’s because 95% of your serotonin, the primary neurotransmitter for controlling mood, is produced in your gut.
And in my patients with mood swings or irritability, the gut issue behind their symptoms is nearly always an infection called Candida or yeast overgrowth.
So let’s explore how this insidious gut infection leads to mood swings and how to overcome it.
How Candida Leads to Mood Swings
Candida is a type of yeast that lives in your mouth and intestines to support healthy digestion and absorption. Typically its population is very small so that it’s helping rather than harming you.
However, if it is able to overgrow and get out of control, it will coat the lining of your gut, drastically reducing your ability to produce serotonin. Without enough serotonin, you may experience mood imbalances ranging from mood swings and irritability all the way to anxiety and depression.
This is why antidepressants are designed to block your brain’s serotonin receptors so that more of the chemical is freed up to remain present in your brain.
And while it’s true that antidepressants can be a helpful tool for coping with severe mood issues in the short term, they are really just a band-aid for the problem. Instead of relying on a medication, wouldn’t it be better to address the actual causes of mood swings so that you can banish them for good?
What Causes Candida Overgrowth and How to Overcome It
So what causes the Candida overgrowth in the first place and how can you eliminate it? The most common cause is a diet high in sugar, refined carbs, and even beneficial fermented foods such as Kombucha, kefir, pickles, or sauerkraut. All of these foods feed the yeast, allowing it to multiply quickly and get out of control.
You may also develop Candida overgrowth after taking antibiotics because, along with fighting bad bacteria, they wipe out the good bacteria (or probiotics) that live in your gut and typically keep the yeast in check. In addition, other medications including birth control pills and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can also lead to an overpopulation of Candida.
Fortunately, by eliminating or minimizing the yeast-feeding foods, attacking the yeast with targeted supplements, and restoring your good bacteria with probiotics, you can get your Candida back under control and restore your natural production of serotonin in order to eliminate mood swings!
This is a guest post by Amy Myers MD, a functional medicine pioneer who has empowered thousands of people around the world to beat Candida and take back their health. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Autoimmune Solution and The Thyroid Connection, and the founder and medical director of Austin UltraHealth.