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Fighting mood swings: Stop the emotional chaos

mood swings

What's really behind our mood swings - and how to get a grip on negative emotions quickly.

Mood swings: run over by emotions

Today I can laugh about it.

Torn back and forth
Photo: Thinkstock
  1. Mood swings: days of rage
  2. Mood swings: The search for happiness
  3. Mood swings: learn to appreciate feelings
  4. Mood swings: Impulsive tantrums
  5. Mood swings: How can I get back down?
  6. Mood swings: influencing the brain

Back then? But on the contrary! I still remember exactly how I tried on jeans in a shop in Frankfurt - just for fun. Because the price of over 200 euros seemed absurdly expensive for me as a student. But then she sat like a glove and I had to have her. My friend persuaded me to sleep on it at least one night.

Grumpily, I agreed and stood in the shop the next day to buy them. Too late, exactly this model was gone - and not to get anywhere in Germany. At that moment, my body was flooded with a feeling we call anger. At home, I screamed her out by calling my friend a curse. And every one of his remarks made it worse. When he dared to say to me, "Now do not get in the way, it's just a pair of pants", it made me so angry that I wanted to get the most out of it.

Mood swings: days of rage

For days on end I was angry - and surprised myself. I did not know that aggressively. And I wondered: where did this intense feeling come from so suddenly? The Italian brain researcher Giovanni Frazzetto has dealt in detail with our emotions. He has just published the book "Der Gefühlscode" in which he decodes our emotions from a scientific and psychological point of view - including anger. It is striking that we can curb this extremely negative feeling for a relatively long time, until it suddenly bursts out impulsively.

The veins dilate, especially on the forehead and neck. The hands are supplied with more blood. In addition, the voice changes: we get loud, sometimes shrill. All this puts us in a position to act immediately. "Anger is a strategy we have developed to defend ourselves against attacks. We need this emotion to point out our rights, "says Frazzetto. The latter probably also applies to the unsuccessful jeans purchase. Through my reaction, I wanted to make it clear to my friend that I myself know best what is good for me. And that he should not dare to influence me yet another time.

Mood swings: The search for happiness

Many people wish to be able to completely put off negative emotions such as anger, grief, fear or shame. But these moods are important - as long as they do not prevail. "There are no good and bad feelings, " says brain researcher Frazzetto. Anger, as described, helps us in an attack situation. Fear makes us avoid risks.

And grief helps us process losses. In addition, emotions are a means of communication with which we signal what is going on in us. Via our facial expressions, we turn our innermost outward. The exact opposite of anger, for example, is the fault. We feel guilty about hurting someone.

Guilty feelings cause us to make up for the damage we have done. So we signal that we are ready to accept the consequences - for example with a lowered head. On the other hand, when we feel joy, we express that with a smile. The muscles tighten between the cheekbones and the corners of the mouth and around our eyes. "Laughter is a sentiment that we agree with others in order to connect with them, " said Frazzetto.

Mood swings: learn to assess feelings

Just because we communicate about emotions does not mean that all people can recognize and read these emotions. Our so-called emotional intelligence provides insight into how far we are able to properly assess and influence feelings in ourselves and others. Who wants to measure his personal emotional quotient, the EQ, can make various tests on the Internet (such as

Scientists advise reading novels that require strangers to improve one's emotional intelligence. Or, even better, to join a theater group. But back to the emotions themselves. What happens when the feeling intensifies so much that it does not stick to verbal outbursts?

Mood swings: Impulsive tantrums

When my dream trousers went through my mouth, I was still able to vent with words, but not infrequently, anger explodes into acts of violence. In order to understand why this happens more easily in some people than in others, a look into the brain is necessary: ​​for emotions, the so-called limbic system is responsible.

Since feeling and thinking are interlinked, the rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is connected to the limbic regions. That my tantrum was limited to words, I owe it to the control function of the prefrontal cortex. A study of offenders who had committed impulsive killings showed that automatically reducing the potential for aggression increases the potential for aggression.

Mood swings: How can I get back down?

Sounds like it is desirable to strengthen this prefrontal cortex. In fact, science has long been concerned with controlling negative emotions. At the request of the researchers someday even something like a "prefrontal training" should be possible. Until that happens, Frazzetto recommends constructively using anger.

So rather often protested clearly and sometimes even on the table, as accumulate everything inwardly, until it comes to escalation. Those who are seriously choleric can use psychotherapy to get their anger under control. But there are also a few simple tricks on how to control negative emotions in everyday life: Regular exercise is a simple means to reduce the permanently harmful adrenaline that is released in case of trouble.

Mood swings: influencing the brain

Other negative feelings such as sadness or anxiety can be positively influenced. Martial arts train especially your own discipline. But also mental training like mindfulness meditation can help to become more balanced over the long term. Brain studies have even shown that those who have been meditating for a long time, show a higher density of nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex. So off cross-legged and hope that at some point the inner balance comes?

As tempting as it sounds, so oblique is this idea for me. But I started to do yoga - because it also helps to train inner serenity. And if the next drama race comes around the corner, I will comment on the situation with only one word: Om!

Recommended reading

There's even more emotion in the new book by Giovanni Frazzetto: "The Emotion Code" (Hanser Verlag, around 22 euros)

More psycho-tips can be found here on JOY Online >>