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What Are the Causes of Violent Mood Swings?

Jessica Ellis
Updated: Jan 25, 2024

Violent mood swings are sudden and drastic shifts in emotion and behavior that may be caused by many different factors. A person undergoing a mood swing is likely to become furious and aggressive, and may become physically or verbally abusive. Some of the factors that can cause mood swings include intake or withdrawal from certain drugs and medications, hormonal shifts, mental health conditions, and some diseases. In some cases, severe emotional stress or pain can bring on violent moods.

Many prescription medications, as well as controlled or illegal drugs, disrupt chemical functions within the body. In some cases, the response to this disruption can manifest in mood and behavior, resulting in mood swings. If a person begins experiencing drastic mood alterations soon after taking a medication, it may be important to consult a doctor to determine if the drug may be responsible. Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, can cause violent episodes that can be extremely dangerous to the primary person and anyone in the vicinity. In some cases, alcohol or drug withdrawal can also spur dangerous mood changes.

Strong hormonal shifts can be responsible for sudden mood alteration. Some women may experience minor mood swings at different points during their menstrual cycle, as hormone fluctuations can affect emotional and mental status. During menopause, women may begin to experience much stronger mood swings, including feelings of violence, extreme frustration, and fury. Drugs that significantly alter testosterone or estrogen production in both men and women can also be culprits in violent mood swings.

Certain psychological conditions, such as bipolar disorder, depression, or borderline personality disorder, are linked to extreme mood changes. These conditions and their symptoms often arise from a chemical imbalance within the brain, which may be correctable in some cases. People with symptoms of depression or a history of mental health issues may benefit from psychological evaluation and therapy to help manage mood swings.

Occasionally, diseases and other medical problems can cause a disruption in brain function that may lead to extreme mood swings. Advanced dementia, brain cancer, and meningitis may all manifest with sudden, drastic changes to behavior. In some cases, severe head injuries can also be the cause of mood swings, often due to pressure and swelling in the brain. If a person experiences a sudden alteration of behavioral patterns that includes violent mood swings, evaluation by a qualified brain specialist may be warranted.

Even people free from medical or psychological issues may occasionally experience a sudden, extreme change to mood and behavior. Stress is frequently the culprit in the cases, which can be just as violent, upsetting, and dangerous as mood swings caused by other factors. Aggressive mood changes may be brought on by extreme physical stress, highly emotional situations, or severe anxiety over a particular situation. Consulting a therapist or psychologist for assistance in managing stress may help reduce the chance of stress-induced mood swings.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Discussion Comments
By amicus01 — On Apr 09, 2013

@Grichey7: I'm just a student, but that is definitely not normal behavior; your wife is 30. However, did her erratic behavior start after her hysterectomy? If it did then it may be an imbalance in her hormones, and she could get replacement, but she need to got to the hospital to get this confirmed. Or, it may be a mood disorder, or personality. Some of them are abrupt in onset (like borderline PD), so she may have not experienced these symptoms before you were married.

If it's not biological, they will probably refer her to a psychiatrist (again medication and therapy will help), but she needs help for both of your sakes.

By grichey7 — On Nov 04, 2012

I am dealing with multiple issues with my wife of 30 years. First, she has been involved in several bad car accidents that have had her in pain management for 10 years. Second, she has had a hysterectomy that has caused her hormones to be out of whack that she takes medication for. I have spent the night in jail once because she got so furious that I was leaving to get a motel for the night that she called 911 and told them I tried to strangle her. That was not true, but it cost me $6,000 dollars and a night in jail.

Last Friday, a nearly identical incident happened without the jail. I came home and knew right away something was up. I got home late and she was still in bed clothes. She was extremely negative about everything. She said I was too noisy. Sometimes that means I am breathing too loudly? I cannot tell you the exact details of the resulting argument, but it got bad enough for me to decide to get some clothes and go get a room for the night. She calmed down and talked me out of it.

Not an hour later, she started up again and I just wanted to relax so I decided plan "a" was correct the first time. While I was getting a suitcase I had in my den, she decided to pick up a small fire safe I had on my desk and hit me in the back with it. She then tried to hit me in the head with it. I managed to duck and shove her in the process. She tripped over he feet and hit her head on a bookcase in the den. I felt awful and fearful. I am not an abuser. I do not hit women. I fear that if I remain with my wife she will either hurt me very badly one day or I will be put in jail labeled as an abuser.

I left and stayed in a motel for three days and now she wants me to come back. What the heck do I do? I would not have married her if I did not love her. She is growing increasingly unpredictable and violent. I am not perfect. I have decided it would be best for me to leave until she calms down, but that is when she always gets violent. I need some answers badly.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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