The Caregiver's Journey

Mood Swings

It can be frustrating and embarrassing when you can’t control your emotions. It can make it hard to participate in social situations.

What you might see:

  • Laughing one minute, and feeling sad or crying the next
  • An emotional response that does not “fit” the situation (i.e., crying when others are laughing, laughing when receiving news about the death of a loved one)
  • Frequent, unexpected shows of emotion

How you can help:

  • Reassure your family member that you understand that his or her display of emotion may not match the situation. Be nonjudgmental.
  • Help family and friends understand sudden shifts in your family member’s mood.
  • Distract your family member. Use redirection (i.e., try to change the topic or focus of interest to something else).
  • If the mood swings are interfering with your family member’s everyday life, ask him/her to talk with the doctor. Medications may be helpful in managing mood swings.