Everyone occasionally feels sad, anxious, irritated, or otherwise moody. But when those feelings become persistent, you’ll want to investigate what might be causing those emotions. Underlying mood swings like depression and anxiety are imbalances in neurotransmitters that manage your mood.
Consider serotonin, which is involved with happiness and well-being. Researchers link low levels of this neurotransmitter with depression and anxiety.1 Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), on the other hand, supports relaxation and calm. Imbalances in GABA can also play a role in mood disorders including anxiety.2
When these and other neurotransmitters fall out of balance, so can your emotional stability. If you’re frequently feeling moody, closely examine the potential causes of those feelings. While external factors might contribute, pay attention to what might be going on inside of you, which may also be creating these struggles.
I’ve found that these three overlooked factors can contribute to mood swings, leading to anxiety, depression, stress, and other disorders that can quickly take down your day.
1. Your Blood-Sugar Levels are Out of Balance
Fluctuations in blood sugar spell bad news for your mood. When your blood sugar stays high, insulin’s job is to bring it back down. However, this hormone sometimes overcompensates and pulls your blood sugar down too low, leaving you feeling tired and cranky.
Research shows that along with sleep quality, blood-sugar fluctuations can increase depression and anxiety.3 When you’re constantly frazzled, your stress hormone cortisol stays high when it shouldn’t be. Studies show that excess levels of cortisol can override insulin and contribute to insulin resistance.4
When blood-sugar levels stay balanced, on the other hand, your body regulates energy levels, mood, and overall well-being like a champ. In fact, blood-sugar balance is the most important thing you can do for your overall health, including your mental health. The best way to do that? Take a protein-first approach with optimal amounts of fiber at every meal.
Being constantly stressed can take your day down quickly. Take Ten Stress Support is a uniquely formulated product that provides gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter for a normal, calm stress response. We’ve also added other calming nutrients including glycine, niacinamide, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6.*
2. Your Gut Health Is Impaired
Healing your gut can pay big dividends on your mood. Think of the gut-brain axis as a two-way communicative street. Underlying that communication are the trillions of gut bacteria that regulate mood and so much more. Imbalances in these bacteria, called dysbiosis, can lead to depression and other mood disorders.5
When the wrong bacteria take over, your immune system releases inflammatory signals that impact your brain. The cumulative effect of dysbiosis is widespread, including depression and other mood disorders.
That makes sense when you consider your gut manufactures over 30 neurotransmitters, including up to 95% of your body's mood-regulating serotonin.6 Research shows that dysbiosis can reduce serotonin production, leading to mood swings and other emotional disturbances.7
Your gut makes most of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, too. Imbalances in this hormone can lead to mood swings, anxiety, and other emotional disturbances.8
Gut issues underlie mood disorders, weight loss resistance, and so much more. We’ve combined targeted amounts of herbs, amino acids, and bioflavonoids in Healthy Gut Support to support gut healing.* Simply mix one tablespoon into the drink of your choice and feel confident that you’re prioritizing gut health.
3. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Your body uses amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to make serotonin and other mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
When you’re not eating enough protein, mood swings including irritability, anxiety, and depression become more common. One review found that low protein intake significantly increased the risk for depression compared with folks who consumed ideal amounts.9
Protein plays other mood-management roles, too. I mentioned that blood-sugar balance is critical for a healthy mood, and protein supports that balance. When you don't get enough protein, your blood-sugar levels can fluctuate, leading to fatigue and irritability.
Protein also helps maintain muscle mass. When you look and feel stronger, you project a more even-keeled mood. When you don't get enough protein, your body may start breaking down muscle tissue for energy, leading to mood-crashing fatigue and lethargy.
You’re likely familiar with the moody aftermath of a poor night’s sleep. Protein can help there, too: your body needs the amino acid tryptophan to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycles.10
All-In-One Shakes are the easiest, most effective way to meet your protein needs. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, keto, Paleo, or diet-agnostic, we’ve got one for you! Every serving delivers 20+ grams of protein along with nutrients, fiber, and phytonutrients.*
Finding Balance to Support a Healthy Mood
Sometimes, feelings of anxiety or frustration can be clues that you need to make a big life change or do some inner work. But what’s going on in your body can also impact how you feel, and these three not-so-obvious reasons could be contributing to mood swings.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders, learning to manage stress, doing the right kind of exercise, and eating by the plate all support a healthy mood. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need it. You never need to go it alone!
- Żmudzka E, Sałaciak K, Sapa J, Pytka K. Serotonin receptors in depression and anxiety: Insights from animal studies. Life Sci. 2018 Oct 1;210:106-124. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2018.08.050. Epub 2018 Aug 23. PMID: 30144453.
- Savage K, Firth J, Stough C, Sarris J. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytother Res. 2018 Jan;32(1):3-18. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5940. Epub 2017 Nov 23. PMID: 29168225.
- Yang W, Liu M, Tian Y, Zhang Q, Zhang J, Chen Q, Suo L, Chen Y. The increased prevalence of depression and anxiety in T2DM patients associated with blood glucose fluctuation and sleep quality. BMC Endocr Disord. 2022 Sep 17;22(1):232. doi: 10.1186/s12902-022-01147-8. PMID: 36114534; PMCID: PMC9482159.
- Cleveland Clinic: Insulin Resistance: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
- Rogers GB, Keating DJ, Young RL, Wong ML, Licinio J, Wesselingh S. From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanisms and pathways. Mol Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;21(6):738-48. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.50. Epub 2016 Apr 19. PMID: 27090305; PMCID: PMC4879184.
- Pedre, Vincent. Happy Gut (pp. 195-196). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
- Appleton J. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018 Aug;17(4):28-32. PMID: 31043907; PMCID: PMC6469458.
- Science Direct: Gamma-aminobutyric acid and probiotics: Multiple health benefits and their future in the global functional food and nutraceuticals market
- Oh J, Yun K, Chae JH, Kim TS. Association Between Macronutrients Intake and Depression in the United States and South Korea. Front Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 17;11:207. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00207. PMID: 32256414; PMCID: PMC7090018.
- Zhou J, Kim JE, Armstrong CL, Chen N, Campbell WW. Higher-protein diets improve indexes of sleep in energy-restricted overweight and obese adults: results from 2 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):766-74. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.124669. Epub 2016 Feb 10. PMID: 26864362; PMCID: PMC4763499.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. Products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern.