Close this search box.
picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Alcohol and mood swings are closely linked. Alcohol is a depressant that changes how your brain and nerves work. It can make you feel good at first but then worsens your mood.

Read on to learn more about alcohol abuse and mood swings and find out how to connect with science-backed treatment. 

heart icon that is 2 hands holding

Need help getting addiction treatment?

Are Alcoholism and Mood Swings Connected?

Alcoholic mood swings involve changes in emotions from drinking. One minute you’re up; the next, you’re down. Energy levels may also be affected.

Some common signs of alcohol-induced mood swings include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Short temper and aggressive outbursts
  • Emotional instability – switching between joy and sadness
  • Poor decision-making or judgment
  • Feeling out of control or unable to regulate emotions
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep

Alcohol changes how your brain handles emotions. It affects chemicals such as serotonin which control your mood, making your feelings swing wildly. You might feel happy and carefree, then become angry, sad, or anxious. Alcohol abuse and mood swings can make you act differently than you would when sober.

The more alcohol you consume, the stronger these mood swings get as levels of blood alcohol fluctuate. Hormones also spike and drop because of alcohol – cortisol, for instance.

It can be upsetting not to know how you might feel and act. These mood swings can harm relationships and your quality of life. Understanding why they happen can help you start making positive changes.

Alcohol triggers big changes in your brain that provoke mood swings. At first, it makes you feel good by increasing chemicals like dopamine or serotonin.

But as you keep drinking, the brain can’t keep up, causing irritability and low mood. Alcohol also affects other brain chemicals that help control emotions, leading to mood swings and mood disorders.

Alcohol makes you urinate more, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can make you irritable and tired. Drinking too much can also cause nutrient deficiencies which affect your brain and emotions over time.

Alcohol can mess up your sleep quality and patterns. Poor sleep is well-known for negatively impacting your mood.

image of man depicting mood swings and alcohol

Can Alcohol Make Existing Mood Disorders Worse?

Alcohol can make existing mood disorders worse. Mood disorders like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder are frequently linked to alcohol use. Some people drink to feel better or to cope with their mood disorder symptoms, but this usually makes things worse.

When you first drink, alcohol can make you feel good by releasing happy chemicals in your brain. But when the alcohol wears off, you can feel even more depressed or anxious. This up-and-down cycle can create chaos in your emotions.

Drinking a lot over a long time can also change your brain chemistry, making it harder for your brain to manage mood and stress. This can lead to more intense mood swings between feeling very high (mania) and very low (depression). Even after you quit drinking, the damage to your brain’s mood systems can last, which means mood problems might continue.

How Can I Treat Mood Swings Caused by Alcohol?

Treating mood swings caused by alcohol usually involves a mix of medication and therapy.


Doctors might prescribe anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants to stabilize mood and reduce feelings of sadness, irritability, or restlessness. Medications like naltrexone or disulfiram can also reduce alcohol cravings. A doctor will monitor these medications to ensure they work well and are safe for you.


Talking to a counselor or therapist, either alone or in a group, can help you understand why you drink and teach you how to manage your moods. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) helps you change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Motivational interviewing can help you stay committed to changing your drinking habits. Support groups offer understanding and advice from others going through the same struggles.

Lifestyle Changes

Including positive changes to your lifestyle, like regular exercise and a healthy diet, can help manage alcohol and mood swings. Getting enough sleep is also essential to your overall well-being and can prevent mental health struggles that can lead to relapse. Lifestyle changes can bring balance and stability back into your life.

Support Groups

Support groups let people share their experiences and find healthier ways to cope instead of drinking. Building a strong network of other sober peers can be incredibly effective in preventing relapse, and provide a source of experienced advice from others who have conquered addiction.

Overcoming alcohol abuse and mood swings isn’t easy. It takes time and dedication, but by utilizing these treatments and lifestyle changes, you can find relief and stability.

Alcohol and Mood Swings FAQs

What can I do about my alcoholism and mood swings?

You can talk to a doctor or counselor for help. Get support from family and friends. Joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can also be helpful.

Are there specific types of alcohol that cause more mood swings?

All types of alcohol can cause mood swings if you drink too much. It’s not about the type of alcohol, but how much you drink.

Can long-term alcoholism lead to mood issues?

Yes, long-term alcoholism can cause serious mood problems like depression and anxiety. It can also make it hard to think clearly.

image depicting mood swings and alcohol

Get Treatment for Alcoholism and Mood Swings at Renaissance Recovery

If you or a loved one are showing signs of alcoholism, early intervention makes treatment smoother. Reach out to Renaissance Recovery any time for help. We have luxury beachside rehabs in California and Florida where you can tackle all aspects of alcoholism.

We can connect you with detox centers near you if you need to withdraw from alcohol safely with medical guidance. You can then move into ongoing treatment at Renaissance. Our outpatient programs allow you to get help with addiction and mental health issues while you continue with daily activities at home, work, or school.

All treatment programs at Renaissance offer personalized care. Therapies include:

For help with excessive alcohol consumption and mood swings, call 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Close this search box.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

Text a Recovery Expert

Text our team to get the help you need ASAP.

Close this search box.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.