Through our clinical research, we’ve learned that people that struggle with memory issues often struggle with mood changes. Why are these two issues correlated and what changes can be made to realize a happy, healthier mood?
Sometimes, it’s difficult to get out of bed. When people are struggling with low energy and mood issues, routine tasks seem tedious and bad news can even sound worse. Dr. Carrie Holmberg from Stanford University says “When I see patients, they complain of mood and memory problems. Patients have trouble finding their keys or retaining information they’ve read in a book. People often point to just not being able to function as well.”
A growing body of research shows that mood issues can affect memory in diverse and surprising ways. People that are down often have trouble remembering details of events they’ve experienced. General experiences can be recalled but not specifics such as what ate from breakfast yesterday. Bad memories have no trouble being recalled.
The brain may reveal some clues about the relationship between memory and mood. The area of the brain dealing with learning and memory — the hippocampus — is sensitive to stress, and tends to be smaller in people with chronic mood issues. “Diminished hippocampal volume could explain poor recollection,” according to Daniel Dillon, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard University. In addition, the ruminative thoughts could make it hard for people to concentrate on other tasks. Rumination or fixating on upsetting situations or events, occupies neural resources that the brain could spend on other things, like memory.
For these reasons, it is important that we look after our mood with the goal of having a healthy mood and outlook on life. The good news is there are a number of simple things that can make a meaningful difference in your mood (and memory):
1. Magnesium is Vital
Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in adults despite being readily available to us through our diet. Magnesium is an important mineral for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, some of which are beneficial for regulating our mood. When we have low levels of this mineral we can become prone to a variety of symptoms that affect our mood such as anxiety, irritability, low mood and headaches. Magnesium helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which, as we already know, is beneficial for preventing mood swings.
Magnesium is also known to help prevent fatigue, which in turn will help to improve and stabilize our mood.
2. Hormone Balance
Hormones can cause mood swings because they often affect the chemistry of the brain. Women are most prone to experiencing mood swings as a result of hormones as they often experience more hormonal fluctuations than men. For example, in the two weeks leading up to your period your estrogen and progesterone levels change dramatically which can then influence your happy chemical serotonin.
Men can also experience mood swings as a result of hormones although this is less likely to occur than it is in women. After the age of 30 men’s testosterone levels begin to gradually decline, low levels of testosterone can cause sleep problems, erectile dysfunction and even mood swings.
3. Improve Your Diet
Blood sugar levels, gut health and poor dietary choices can trigger mood swings. Working in a similar way to caffeine, sugar stimulates the nervous system and tricks the brain into releasing the feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. However, after your sugar high comes that all-too-predictable sugar crash that can leave us feeling tired and irritable. Gut health can also contribute to your emotional health. 90% of your feel-good chemical serotonin is actually produced in the gastrointestinal tract. So keeping your gut happy could be key to keeping your mood swings at bay.
There are a number of ways that you can use your food to improve your mood – be sure to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes more vegetables and less sugar. We recommend the Mediterranean Diet and a daily probiotic such as Procera Probiotic Immune Support to keep your gut happy and healthy.
4. Reduce Caffeine
It’s a well-known that caffeine is a major culprit when it comes to mood swings. Caffeine works by stimulating the nervous system and tricking the brain into releasing feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. However, as I’m sure you’re all aware these significant highs come at the cost of energy slumps that can leave us feeling exhausted and down. Although caffeine stimulates your nervous system and blocks adenosine receptors thus preventing you from sleeping, a study found that it could also prevent receptors from reacting and causing a stress response such as bad mood, memory problems and low mood. Try swapping your regular caffeinated drink for a caffeine-free alternative such as herbal tea.
5. Stay Hydrated
Even mild dehydration is enough to cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches changes to our mood and mental function. It is thought that dehydration causes mood swings because of decreased blood flow to the brain. Another theory suggests that neurons in the brain can detect dehydration and then send signals to other parts of the brain that are responsible for mood regulation.
Health experts commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon a day. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember.
6. Reduce Your Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can cause emotional distress resulting in mood swings. Mood swings caused by anxiety can follow episodes of nervousness, fear and stress. When we are anxious we are in a state of high emotional alertness that can make us hyperaware and hyper-responsive to situations, our environment, people and emotions. Anxiety (in a similar way to stress) also leeches all of our important nutrients that play an important part in mood regulation. This happens because all of these nutrients are driven towards essential organs like the heart, lung and brain and in the production of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol.
There are a number of changes you can make to overcome anxiety including meditation, breathing techniques, dietary and lifestyle changes. Herbal supplements with Adatogens such as Procera Mood can used to balance your mood and ease symptoms of mild stress and anxiety.
7. High Quality Sleep
Sleep and mood are closely connected, we need good quality sleep to be able to emotionally process the day we’ve had at a subconscious level. Sleep is also our time for healing and restoration so, without it, we can increase our chances of both emotional and physical problems. Lack of sleep can easily lead to low mood or feelings of anxiety and stress. If you are a poor sleeper, you may experience fluctuations in your mood which can then be interpreted as mood swings.