Moody? Cranky? 7 Odd Reasons Why

Too much coffee, too little sleep and other mood killers to avoid.

Medically reviewed in January 2020

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Feeling crabby? Your diet, lack of sleep or circle of friends may be to blame. Luckily, there are some easy fixes for a bad mood. Larry Banta, MD, a psychiatrist at the West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho, explains why we might be in a bad mood, and what we can do about it.

Check out depression signs you should never ignore.

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You Don't Get Enough Sun

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium properly, and can affect your mood, too—a deficiency in vitamin D can make you feel down. “Low vitamin D affects calcium levels in the blood, which can affect mood. An imbalance of calcium can make you feel a little depressed,” Banta says. Fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, are good sources of vitamin D, but you can also get your daily intake from sunshine.

The Fix: Get some sunshine—a few minutes a day is all you need.

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You Eat Too Much Junk

Emotional eating high-fat and high-sugar foods might only be exacerbating your negative feelings. Unfortunately, for both your mind and your sweet tooth, there’s a connection between your diet and your temper. Studies suggest a correlation between a diet high in refined sugar and decreased brain function and worsening symptoms of depression.

The Fix: Snack on protein and good carbohydrates, like an apple and peanut butter or carrots and hummus. The combination of protein and slow-burning carbs enhances your body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood.

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You're Dehydrated

If you wait until you’re thirsty to grab a glass of water, it may be too late. Even mild dehydration has adverse effects on your energy and mood. Studies suggest your mood deteriorates as the levels of water in your body do.

The Fix: Drink more water. Some experts recommend drinking eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day, but every body is different. The key is maintaining proper hydration.



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You Work Too Much

A career offers many benefits, like financial stability, growth and social interaction, but typical work habits may not be healthy. One study suggests people who work more than 50 hours a week show a decline in mental well-being, including feelings of depression. For many of these people, working more creates less time for leisure, friends and family.

The Fix: Pick up a hobby! Join a group, start journaling or sign up for a cooking class. Setting aside some leisurely time each day or week will force you to leave work at your desk and concentrate on something else.

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You Hang With The Wrong Crowd

Negativity can be contagious, so spending too much time with a “Debbie Downer” can bring you down, too. A defeatist coworker, nagging family member or toxic partner can contribute to your foul mood—maybe without you even realizing it. “Family conflict and a lack of a supportive social system—those kind of things will predispose you even more to having an episode of depression,” Banta says.

The Fix: Find a new circle of friends. But what about your family and coworkers? Avoid negative people when you can, and when you can’t, contribute positivity to the conversation. Positive thinking has the potential to lower levels of distress and depression and lengthen your life.

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You Downed Too Much Caffeine

Coffee certainly has its benefits: Studies suggest it can help prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But you can have too much of a good thing. While a cup or two in the morning may actually protect against depression, people with sensitivity to caffeine or those who have consumed too much, may experience worsening feelings of depression and anxiety. Plus, too much caffeine can disrupt your sleep, making you grumpy and amplifying these feelings.

The Fix: Cut back on your caffeine consumption. Try limiting yourself to one cup of coffee in the morning or switch to decaffeinated drinks in the afternoon. Green tea, with less caffeine, is a great alternative!

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You Need Sleep

Sleep deprivation, even mild cases, can cause irritability, a short temper and a susceptibility to stress. One study showed individuals who slept for four and a half hours each night for one week expressed more feelings of anger and sadness.

The Fix: Luckily, a good night’s rest can restore your mood to normal levels. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended number of hours for adults ages 26 and older.

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See Your Healthcare Provider

A bad mood can be triggered by a number of things, like sleep, diet, friends or changes in your hormones. But if you’re experiencing more than a fleeting feeling of sadness, and you think you might have signs of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. Worldwide, depression affects about 350 million people, and can’t be treated with diet and better sleep. “At a certain level, you really need medications to get a person out of suicidal thoughts or behaviors,” Banta says.

Learn the signs of depression and how you can get help.

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