A general underlying cause of extreme mood fluctuations may be a genetic tendency or an inborn temperament. Studies suggest that close relatives are more likely to suffer from the problem than are people in general. Research in personality strongly indicates that emotional stability is a basic, or source, trait of personality. Such a trait arises not from learning but from biological causes.
A psychological factor can readily interact with an inborn tendency. If, for example, a person who is a natural extravert is forced by life circumstances to lead a reserved, inhibited life, then an "emotional breakout" may occur. This will be identified as a mania. Once the mania runs its course, the person may submit to social pressure, retreat, and manifest depression. The mood swings under these circumstances can be interpreted as a kind of protest by the natural personality against the imposed social one.
Mood fluctuations are possibly related to the body's circadian rhythms, biological processes that "travel in circles in one day". The wake-sleep cycle is the prime example. Consequently, disturbances in the wake-sleep cycle can be disruptive. The menstrual cycle is a biological rhythm too. If a female suffers from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a cluster of symptoms such as cramps, headaches, illogical thinking, and excitability, may have an adverse effect on momentary emotional disposition. PMS is very common in the female population. In general, it can be said that anything that interferes with the body's regular patterns of functioning can induce oscillations of mood.
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