Rapid mood swings are rarely considered to be a physiological condition – much less a disease or disorder. Most people (even those who suffer most severely from them) tend to pin their erratic emotional fluctuations on a dysfunctional state of mind rather than on a specific chemical or hormonal imbalance.
However, the fact of the matter is that mood swings are most often caused by neurochemical irregularities in specific areas of the brain, most commonly in the limbic system (hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala). This region of the brain is responsible for regulating emotional conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.
And, of course, like every other functional network of the central nervous system, endocannabinoids and their receptors have been found abundantly within the limbic system. This appears to indicate that cannabinoids like CBD are very likely to play a central regulatory role in establishing and maintaining emotional health at the chemical level.
Studies have shown neuronal tissue endocannabinoids (cannabinoids located in the hippocampus and amygdala) to be directly responsible for the release and regulation of monoamine neurotransmitters, which are key players in mood regulation and emotional well-being.
In this article, we’ll talk about a few of these specific studies, go over what exactly causes the underlying effects of emotional stress, and key in on why CBD oil for mood swings is becoming the preferred method of addressing this issue among both doctors and patients alike.
Mood Swings: What Are They, and What Causes Them?
While some mood swings can be due to more transient issues like acute stress or even low blood sugar, some mood swings are caused by an underlying physiological/chemical condition in the form of hormonal irregularity or neurochemical imbalance.
Though the full chemical spectrum of mood regulation is not fully understood, it’s known that changes in emotion and mood are regulated in large part by the neuromodulatory action of serotonin and dopamine. Irregularities in either one (or both) of these chemicals can cause wild and unpredictable shifts in cognitive behavior, the behavior of our pleasure/reward system, and overall emotional response.
What Causes These Serotonin and Dopamine Irregularities?
Specific conditions such as bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder (which is similar to bipolar but less severe), and major depressive disorder are known to result in neurotransmitter dysfunction. Also, things like hormone irregularities have been widely understood to result in chemical imbalances in the brain, which can directly lead to the erratic emotional fluctuation of mood swings (this is typically most common for adolescents and pregnant/menopausal women).
Substance (drug and alcohol) abuse has been directly related to drastic mood shifts that are brought on by neurochemical imbalances.
Other factors such as stress, changes in diet/sleep patterns, and diseases such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, and autism, can lead to drastic changes in mood.
Finally, certain medications like antidepressants, appetite suppressants, and anti-anxiety drugs have even been known to affect serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain.
Regarding identifying the difference between benign mood shifts and those brought on by chemical imbalances, it’s typically suggested that frequently occurring emotional sweeps from extreme happiness to extreme depression are indicative of a neuronal imbalance.
These wildly fluctuating emotions can result in feelings of happiness so intense that individuals can’t control things like excessive spending, creative urgency, and even sexual drive. Likewise, feelings of depression can often be so intense that individuals will consider self-harm or even suicide.
Additionally, unpredictable behaviors that last for days at a time and mood swings that interfere with day-to-day life to a significant degree, are most commonly indicative of chemical imbalances that require treatment or medical attention.
Living with Erratic Mood Swings
Erratic and unpredictable fluctuations in mood can naturally tend to have a detrimental effect on day-to-day life. In the most severe of instances, these emotional shifts can easily get in the way of one’s ability to work, focus, maintain healthy relationships, or even to eat, sleep, or get out of bed in the morning.
Simple, minor inconveniences can derail one’s mental state to the point of manic emotional episodes, and intense feelings of euphoria and depression can (and are often) experienced near-simultaneously within the same day or even hour.
Additionally, problem-solving and the ability to work through daily life situations become next to impossible, with the full emotional spectrum clouding any potential ability to formulate or implement a cognitive process.
Living with mood swings or bipolar disorder can be wholly and utterly debilitating. Most individuals who experience the condition full bore become willing to resort to any means necessary to receive effective and positive treatment.
Conventional Treatment Methods for Mood Swings and Bipolar Disorder (Not CBD)
Drastic mood swings can often be treated with simple lifestyle changes. Things as fundamental as improving diet, sleep patterns, and overall quality of sleep can have a massive impact on emotional health. They should be the first method of treatment before any medication dependence.
However, in the event of significant neurochemical imbalances brought on by one of the aforementioned conditions, lifestyle changes are often not enough to induce positive effects on mood regulation. In these circumstances, physicians and psychiatrists often end up resorting to prescription medications to re-establish proper neurochemical levels in the brain.
Some of the drugs used are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including labels such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. While moderately effective, these medications have been known to produce wildly different responses from individual to individual, as well as highly dangerous side effects that can include severe depression and thoughts of suicide.
CBD for Mood Swings: A 100% Natural Way to Correct a Neurochemical Imbalance?
As mentioned in the introduction, serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain are directly controlled and regulated by endocannabinoids within the central nervous system’s endocannabinoid system. Several studies, including a recent (2011) publication in the medical journal Neuropharmacology, have shown this to be the case.
So does this mean that mood swings caused by chemical imbalance are a direct byproduct of simple endocannabinoid deficiencies, and can be managed with 100% natural medications like CBD oil?
While there’s not enough direct evidence to make that claim definitively, it appears more and more likely that this may be the case. Several studies and clinical trials, including publications in Current Neuropharmacology and the Journal of Neuroscience, have reiterated the role of the endocannabinoid network in establishing and maintaining mental health and emotional well-being, in addition to acting as central regulators of our moods and emotions.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an innate (naturally occurring inside the human body) network of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. The ECS carries out dozens of roles in whole-body homeostasis – from hormonal release in the thyroid gland to neural communication in the CNS and even insulin production in the islet cells of the pancreas.
Under normal circumstances, these naturally-occurring cannabinoids (such as anandamide) interact with naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors (such as the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors) to establish a full range of homeostatic regulation and internal cellular balance.
Thus, when there is a deficiency within the ECS, any number of bodily or neurologic functions might be thrown entirely off-balance. In these cases, natural cannabis compounds like CBD can help re-establish and rebuild the proper cell-to-cell interactions that exist within the endogenous cannabinoid/receptor network.
Behind THC, CBD is typically the second-most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. However, it’s quickly becoming preferred among medical patients over THC because it has zero intoxicating components – that is, it will not get you high.
Products like CBD oil (as well as CBD edibles, topicals, and even CBD-rich flower) contain all of the beneficial properties of cannabis, without producing the stereotypical high that’s commonly associated with the drug.
The vast majority of quality CBD products come from hemp, which contains less than 0.3% THC by volume. Though both hemp and marijuana come from the same species of Cannabis sativa L, they have significant differences in their active cannabinoid content.
The Bottom Line: CBD for Mood Swings
Given the influx of scientific evidence in respected medical and academic journals, it’s become quite clear that CBD for mood swings possibly could be an option for the debilitating neuronal condition.
For those considering taking CBD for mood swings or bipolar disorder, be advised that there are lots of bogus products out there. These products are manufactured and labeled as pure CBD or CBD-rich, when in fact, they contain virtually none of the active cannabinoid. The FDA has issued warning statements each of the past three years to these companies, yet they still manage to keep their products on the market.
To help identify the most effective oils and reputable CBD products, we’ve listed below a few of the manufacturers that have proven to be the most reliable over the last several years. As is always the case, though, make sure and do plenty of your own research, and also be advised that CBD and other cannabinoids do not have the same effect for every individual.