Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/8/2022
Having a healthy relationship takes a lot of work. But when you — or your significant other — have unpredictable mood swings, it can be even more difficult.
Katy Perry sang “You’re hot then you’re cold; you’re yes then you’re no…” and if you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone who has a mood swing — or several — you can probably relate!
Of course, everyone has good days and bad days, but if you or your partner are on a constant rollercoaster of highs and lows, chances are, it’s not a pleasant ride. So what can you do about mood swings in a relationship? Read on.
If you or your partner has persistent mood swings for no apparent reason, it may be a sign of a mood disorder. The term “mood disorder” is used by health professionals to describe all types of depression and bipolar disorder.
Some mood disorders, like bipolar disorder or cyclothymic disorder (which is less extreme than bipolar disorder) can cause someone to feel extremely sad (and have depressive episodes) followed by periods of being excessively happy (experienced as manic episodes).
Whether you are the one experiencing the mood swings, or your partner is the one with the highs and lows, being in a relationship with someone who may have a mood disorder can be challenging.
If you’re tired of feeling like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, and like any little thing may cause an emotional outburst, here are some tips on how to handle mood swings in a relationship.
While you may like to talk to your partner about lots of things – they may not be the best sounding board for everything. When one of you is experiencing intense mood swings, a mental health professional can help you work through your feelings.
There are several different kinds of psychotherapy that are considered good treatment options for dealing with mood swings, but if you’re focusing on relationship issues, family-focused therapy can be an effective form of treatment.
Family-focused therapy will help you and your partner recognize and manage the warning signs of mood swings.
Antidepressants, on the other hand, may actually worsen mood swings, so they should be used cautiously.
A healthcare provider will be able to assess your needs and help you find the medication that is right for you. If you’re not sure where to begin, the Hers online mental health center is a great resource. And our telepsychiatry service can provide a personalized treatment plan for you.
From too much sleep to not enough sleep, disrupting your circadian rhythm can affect the chemicals in your body and trigger mood changes.
In fact, studies have shown that disruptions in sleep and routine may cause bouts of mania or depression.
So, if mood swings are affecting your relationship, establish a set bedtime and wake time, and stick with your new sleep routine.
Setting a consistent routine will help you and your partner know you’re getting the right amount of sleep – which may help with mood management.
That means putting down your devices, turning off the lights, and getting some quality shut eye. An added benefit? Since you’ll both be in bed, you may get some extra snuggle time, too.
Try to look at the mood swings less as a mental illness and more as a disease of the brain. Then, when the sudden mood shifts make the relationship difficult, you can try to compartmentalize the anger – in other words, you can be angry at the disease, and not at the person.
You may feel powerless to the ups and downs that come with mood swings, but you can control the situation by advocating for the right mental healthl care and emotional support.
Supporting a significant other who has severe fluctuations in mood can be emotionally draining. Research shows that as a caregiver, you may even have an increased risk of becoming depressed.
That’s why it’s so important to take the time to focus on your own mental health, even if you are not the moody one.
This means finding ways to reduce stress, restore your energy and work through feelings of guilt or anger that arise from the emotional ups and downs you may feel.
Meditation is an effective way to manage stress, and it also helps reduce anxiety, pain and depression. In addition, it can lower blood pressure and help you get more in touch with your inner-self.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that meditation can help whether you’re the one in the relationship who is dealing with someone who has intense shifts in mood, or if you are the moody one.
There are several different kinds of meditation. One in particular, called mindfulness meditation, has proven helpful when trying to improve cognitive function – especially when pertaining to mood swings.
Mindfulness meditation is when you learn to focus objectively on your negative thoughts so you can achieve a state of calm.
Studies have shown meditation can help control reactivity and reduce ruminative thoughts, so when a bad mood, or feelings of anxiety start to rear up, meditation can help you keep the negative emotions at bay.
Dealing with mood swings in a relationship can impact your daily life, but sometimes it can have a positive outcome.
As a partner to someone who experiences mood shifts, you may learn to have increased empathy and compassion. And if you are the one with mood swings, you may appreciate your partner’s patience and care during the difficult periods.
It’s possible that experiencing and managing mood swings could make your relationship even stronger.
If you can work through mood swings together, you may find that standing together during the tough times actually strengthens your relationship bond.
Hey, we all have our moments – but if mood swings have taken your relationship hostage it’s time to make some changes.
There are ways to to turn a tumultuous relationship into a healthy one, like therapy, mood stabilizing medications, establishing a routine, practicing self-care and meditation.
And here this: The news can be good. When you and your partner work together to overcome hardships, it’s possible to come out even stronger on the other side.
If you’re experiencing mood swings or any shifts in your moods that are negatively affecting your life, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare professional to get the support you need to heal. Your moods — and relationship — will be better for it.