Happy Mood and Sad Mood drawn on a paper

How to Successfully navigate Mood Swings as an ADHD Mom

The Rollercoaster of Emotions

Mood swings – they’re like riding a rollercoaster, aren’t they? One moment you’re up, feeling on top of the world, and the next, you’re plummeting into the depths of despair. As moms with ADHD, these mood swings can feel like a wild ride we didn’t sign up for. But what exactly are mood swings, and how do they impact our mental health?

Personal Story: The Ups and Downs of Motherhood

Picture this: it’s a typical morning in the household. My kid is being fussy about not getting enough sleep. I haven’t had time to made my coffee and I have no idea what to make for breakfast. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a wave of frustration hits me like a ton of bricks. One minute I’m laughing, the next I’m in tears – all before 9 a.m.

Living with ADHD means navigating a constant whirlwind of emotions. Some days, I feel like Supermom, conquering every task with ease. Other days, I’m drowning in a sea of overwhelm, struggling to keep my head above water. It’s a rollercoaster ride unlike any other, but it’s also taught me resilience and the importance of self-care.

Mom holding her head in frustration while her toddler plays next to her

Understanding Mood Swings: The ADHD Factor

So, why do we experience these intense mood swings? Well, for us ADHD moms, it’s all tied to our brain chemistry. You see, ADHD affects the way our brains regulate emotions, making us more prone to sudden shifts in mood. It’s like our emotional volume dial is stuck on max, and even the smallest things can set it off. This is why ADHD commonly gets misdiagnosed with anxiety or depression.

But it’s not just our brains playing tricks on us – external factors like stress, sleep deprivation, and hormonal changes can also exacerbate our mood swings. You see, for many of us, our monthly cycle can intensify those already tumultuous mood swings. ADHD itself can already make emotions feel like a rollercoaster ride, but when you add in the hormonal fluctuations that come with our periods, it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. It’s a tough balancing act, but understanding how ADHD, mood swings, and our menstrual cycle intersect can help us navigate the ups and downs with a little more grace and self-compassion. It’s a perfect storm of chaos, but understanding the root causes can help us better navigate the ups and downs.

How Brain Chemicals Help with Mood Swings

Understanding how neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins influence our mood can shed light on effective ways to manage mood swings. These chemical messengers play crucial roles in regulating emotions and can help alleviate the rollercoaster of ups and downs that often accompany ADHD.

Serotonin, often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, helps to stabilize mood and promote feelings of well-being. By engaging in activities like mindfulness, exercise, and socializing, we can boost serotonin levels in the brain, thereby reducing the severity of mood swings.

Dopamine, known as the “reward” neurotransmitter, plays a key role in motivation, pleasure, and focus. When dopamine levels are balanced, we experience increased feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Engaging in activities that bring us joy and accomplishment, such as hobbies, goal-setting, and positive social interactions, can help regulate dopamine levels and mitigate mood fluctuations.

Oxytocin, often called the “love hormone,” is associated with bonding, trust, and social connection. Acts of kindness, hugs, and spending quality time with loved ones can trigger the release of oxytocin, promoting feelings of warmth and contentment. Cultivating strong support networks and nurturing meaningful relationships can enhance oxytocin production and provide emotional stability during turbulent times.

Endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers, are released in response to stress, exercise, and pleasurable experiences. Endorphins not only alleviate physical discomfort but also have mood-boosting effects, helping to alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. Engaging in regular exercise, laughter, and activities that bring joy and excitement can stimulate endorphin release, offering a natural remedy for mood swings.

By understanding the role of these neurotransmitters in regulating mood, we can incorporate strategies into our daily lives to support their production and balance. Whether through mindfulness practices, physical activity, social connections, or acts of kindness, harnessing the power of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins can help us navigate the emotional rollercoaster of ADHD with greater resilience and stability.

A woman smelling flowers with the sun shining in the background

Coping Strategies: Taming the Emotional Rollercoaster

So, how do we keep our sanity intact amidst the chaos? Here are a few practical tips for managing those mood swings:

  1. Mindful Breathing Breaks: Set aside a few minutes each day to focus solely on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process, allowing yourself to be fully present in the moment.
  2. Nature Walks: Take a leisurely stroll in nature to clear your mind and reconnect with the world around you. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors as you walk, allowing yourself to be fully immersed in the experience. The sunshine will give you an extra dose of serotonin too.
  3. Yoga Sessions: Dedicate time to practicing yoga, either at home or in a class setting. Yoga combines gentle movement with mindfulness, helping to calm the mind and soothe frayed nerves.
  4. Journaling: Grab a notebook and pen and let your thoughts flow onto the page. Journaling can be a therapeutic way to process emotions and gain insight into your mood patterns.
  5. Dance Party: Crank up your favorite tunes and let loose with a spontaneous dance party in your living room. Movement and music can be powerful mood lifters, helping to shake off tension and boost your spirits.
  6. Art Therapy: Get creative with paints, markers, or even just a doodle on the back of receipt. You don’t have to be an artist – simply let your emotions guide your brushstrokes and see where it takes you.
  7. Favourite Tune: Music can always lift my spirits. Turning on the radio or finding your favourite playlist on Spotify or Youtube might be the last thing on your mind. But give it a try and thank me later.
  8. Breathwork Exercises: Explore different breathwork techniques, such as alternate nostril breathing or box breathing, to help regulate your nervous system and promote relaxation.
  9. Gardening: Spend time tending to a garden or indoor plants as a therapeutic way to connect with nature and nurture living things. The act of caring for plants can be calming and rewarding.
  10. Support Groups: Seek out online or in-person support groups for individuals with ADHD or mood disorders. Connecting with others who share similar experiences can provide validation, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.
Different moods drawn on eggs

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey

So, dear ADHD moms, remember this: you are not alone in your struggles. We may be riding the emotional rollercoaster, but we’re also resilient, strong, and capable of weathering any storm that comes our way.

Let’s prioritize our mental health, seek support when we need it, and embrace the beautiful messiness of motherhood – mood swings and all. After all, it’s the twists and turns that make the ride worthwhile.

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