You’re pregnant; yay! If you’ve been trying to conceive, this is undoubtedly cause for celebration. So, uh, why can’t you stop crying? Don’t worry — mood swings during pregnancy are common, and they usually aren’t any cause for concern. On any given day while you’re expecting, you might run the gamut from ecstatic to overwhelmed and everything in between. It’s natural, Mama.
Even so, there are certain instances in which pregnancy mood swings merit a call or visit to your OB-GYN. To help you get a handle on what’s happening with your emotions, here’s a little more information.
When do mood swings in pregnancy start?
The Mayo Clinic cites emotional ups and downs among first-trimester pregnancy symptoms, so you may start to notice marked moodiness relatively early. Because every woman and every pregnancy is different, you may not experience mood swings at all. Or, if you do, they may be short-lived.
But they could also endure throughout your pregnancy — and that’s understandable. Think about it: Every trimester comes with its own challenges, whether they’re biological, psychological, or even social. No one is going to blame you if you burst into tears watching a commercial about dish soap or get irrationally irritated over how loudly your partner opens a bag of chips.
OK, so it might not always be easy, but it is typically normal.
What causes mood swings during pregnancy?
Your body is busy building a human being, which means you’ve got a lot going on inside of you. That includes a spike in things like estrogen and progesterone, making you a walking maelstrom of hormones. Hello, emotions! To put it in more scientific terms, the American Pregnancy Association explains that changes in hormone levels can affect your level of neurotransmitters. Since these neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that regulate mood, it’s not hard to see how the hormonal influx during pregnancy could lead to mood swings.
Other pregnancy-related issues like added stress — bringing children into the world can be anxiety-inducing — and fatigue can also contribute to moodiness.
What can you do to help with mood swings?
It may sound cliché, but clichés exist for a reason: Treat yo’ self. Keeping your stress level low can help manage mood swings, so you’ve never had a better excuse for self-pampering. Take naps to minimize fatigue. Squeeze in exercise to take advantage of those mood-boosting endorphins. Eat a balanced diet, but don’t feel bad about occasionally indulging in your cravings. Do more things that make you happy and calm.
It could also help to have conversations with loved ones about the possibility of mood swings during your pregnancy. Knowing that they understand your emotional pendulum right now might minimize tensions that could add to your stress level.
Do mood swings ever merit professional help?
Although it’s normal to experience mood swings during pregnancy, there are times where you may need to consider calling in backup. If your mood swings become severe enough to concern you or loved ones, there’s zero shame in reaching out to your health care provider for support. The sooner you address the issue, the better.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 52 percent of women who have been pregnant reported increased anxiety or depression while pregnant. So, if you have a history of depression, clinical anxiety in your family history, or have struggled with traumatic experiences in the past, call your doctor to discuss options that will help you deal with what you’re feeling.
To be clear, you don’t have to be suffering from severe mood swings to benefit from therapy during pregnancy — this is a time of profound change in your life and having someone help you sort through your emotions could be healthy.
Written by Julie Sprankles.