Sneaky Things That Can Mess with Your Mood

By now it’s pretty well known that things like lack of sleep, elevated stress and lack of movement or exercise can mess with your mood. However, there are other, less obvious influences that may be silently wrecking their havoc as well — ones that may require just a bit more investigation. 

So why not start now?

If you notice that a turbulent mood persists on a regular basis despite good sleep habits, exercise, manageable stress, a balanced diet, and even help from a clinician at TOC, the following factors may be worth looking into:

1. Hormonal Imbalance

For both men and women, our hormones naturally fluctuate throughout the month, causing bouts of moodiness or anxiety (for instance, the week before a woman’s period), but for some people, their hormones are in a more constant state of imbalance, leading to effects that can be seen on a more daily basis. In women, this may manifest as oestrogen dominance, where the production of too much oestrogen in relation to progesterone may lead to mood swings or anxiety; or in men, where abnormally low levels of testosterone may result in low energy, depression or irritability. Did you know that we have a higher concentration of hormones in our brains than we do in our bloodstream? It’s no wonder then that our hormones can have such a large impact on our brain chemistry, our motivation, and our mental and physical health. 

2. Insulin Resistance or Unstable Blood Sugar

Given that our brains run primarily on glucose, it’s not surprising that a strong relationship exists between mood and blood sugar. Your blood sugar can affect how you feel, how you think, and even how you behave. Low blood glucose levels may make you irritable, confused, shaky or jittery, while high blood glucose levels may make you foggy, lethargic, tense, angry or sad. 

Insulin resistance, or impaired insulin sensitivity, occurs when the cells in your body stop responding to insulin the way they should—meaning they aren’t taking glucose from your blood and storing it, resulting in abnormally elevated blood glucose levels or hyperglycaemia. This means that your body — your pancreas, to be exact — produces more and more insulin to try and help glucose to enter the body’s cells and provide them (and you) with energy. 

Side note: Insulin resistance can sometimes lie at the heart of hormone imbalances, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women. 

Research has suggested that there are multiple ways in which certain mental health or mood conditions can be related to blood sugar dysregulation or insulin resistance. For instance insulin has been known to stimulate hormones associated with stress and may increase the risk of abnormal stress responses in the brain, or may increase inflammation of a certain chemical that in turn decreases the level of serotonin in the brain, which can lead to depressive symptoms. Unstable blood sugar can also result in feelings of anxiety or worry. 

3. A Leaky Gut and Food Intolerances

There is growing interest in whether there is a connection between our gut and our actual brain as the gut shares a close nervous connection to our actual brain, and is the main production centre for a host of hormones, neurochemicals, and about 90% of the body’s serotonin, making the gut instrumental in the regulation of basic physiological and mental processes including learning, memory and mood. Our gut health, therefore, can have significant impacts on our mood and mental health; if your gut isn’t happy, there’s a good chance you’re not happy either. 

What does an unhappy gut look like? A ‘leaky’ gut refers to a gut that has increased intestinal permeability, meaning that bacteria, toxins and undigested proteins can ‘leak’ into the bloodstream, causing an inflammatory response that may induce further inflammation in the body and brain, manifesting in a number of conditions. For instance, food intolerances (Note: different from food allergies), a common one being gluten, can create a chronically inflamed environment in the gut and brain, resulting in poor absorption of nutrients required to synthesise certain neurotransmitters that regulate our mood, such as serotonin. Keeping a food and mood diary, where after foods are consumed symptoms related to mood are recorded, may be able to help reveal existing patterns and identify potential food intolerances. 

4. Weather (No, really.)

It turns out the phrase “under the weather” may be more apt than we think. While individuals have their own preferences when it comes to weather and temperature (for instance, some people love sunny, humid climates like Singapore while others find it sticky and stifling and would prefer to be in the colder UK) there are some patterns that emerge when looking at how the weather and climate affects the populous at large. 

Singapore has been experiencing an unusual amount of rainfall over the past few months, and you may have noticed an impact on your mood. Apart from a lack of sunlight causing dips in serotonin, rainy weather can encourage us to fall into habits that may in turn negatively affect our mood, such as crawling into bed, avoiding exercise or isolating from others. Doing this can stop us from experiencing the positive effects of endorphins, boosts of serotonin associated with exposure to light, increased self-esteem by feeling productive and engaging with others, and taking part in activities that make us feel good and full of vitality. 


Our minds and bodies are complex things, susceptible to a host of factors that may not even occur to us as we go about our day. Moods shift, dipping and lifting throughout the month, the week, and even within the day, but longer periods of low or turbulent mood may indicate that something else may be at play, and may be worth investing the time to look further into. 

To meet with a professional psychologist or counsellor, call The Other Clinic at 8809 0659 or email us