Feeling grumpy all the time? 6 Health Checks To Do

by Alissa Marquess on November 8, 2012

How to be a healthy momDo you feel like you constantly have PMS? 

Are you perplexed by where all your anger is coming from?

You may need to look at your own health.

As a mom it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself at the best of times, and when you get busy you can really let it slip.  Many of us put off doing things like going in for a regular check-up.

For some of us that means we’re overlooking serious health issues or suffering needlessly – feeling grouchy all the time when we could be feeling better with a little TLC.    Many treatable health issues can cause exhaustion or irritability.

I asked a health professional and about  issues that may cause mood changes to gather information for this post, but of course you’ll want to do your own research and talk to your own doctor!


Six health checks for grouchy moms:

1. Thyroid – Both hyper and hypo thyroid conditions can cause mood changes.  A friend of mine who later discovered she had a thyroid disorder described the run up to her diagnosis as being like having PMS all the time and being perpetually tired.

2. Anemia – A frequent issue amongst new moms, low iron levels can leave you feeling tired and grumpy.

Health checks moms need3. Blood Sugar – This goes back to regular healthy meals (though of course deeper issues such as diabetes would definitely cause irritability.)  Swings in blood sugar can be a serious cause of a bad temper.

You know the drill – eat regular meals with protein for lasting energy.  It’s almost too simple, so a lot of us make it a low priority and try to get by grabbing simple carbohydrates like crackers or chips or sugary foods for a quick fix.  The problem is these cause  your blood sugar to go through peaks and valleys and this leads to poor concentration and poor self control.

Simple sugars are absorbed so quickly that the body over-reacts and sends out too much insulin – causing low blood sugar. (source)

When I’m tired I CRAVE sugar, so I know it’s a tough one, but did you know that your self control relies heavily on glucose - if your blood sugar is low you’re brain doesn’t have the resources to maintain control!

Moral of the story – stick with frequent meals involving good fats, complex carbohydrates and protien. I have a lunch planning printable that may be helpful.

4. B Vitamins – B-vitamins are critical for nerve and brain function as well as for converting carbohydrates into energy.  You can take a B-complex vitamin and also can ask your doctor about testing for low levels of some B-vitamins if you suspect this might be a problem for you.

Over the past several years, evidence has mounted that B vitamins—B12 and folate in particular—may ward off depression and other mental problems. A Finnish study is only the latest to link B vitamins to maintenance of good mood. – Psychology Today

5. Caffeine Intake - I will be the last one to tell you to stop drinking coffee because I would be a major hypocrite.  I love my morning coffee.  However, it is worth considering that caffeine can cause irritability, and notice if you need to cut back.  Especially on days when you don’t have enough sleep and have a long to-do list that is not going to get done, too much caffeine may add to the likelihood that you will snap at your family.

6. Hormonal Cycles – Have you noticed PMS being a major cause of anger or grouchiness?  If you notice your temper is linked to your cycles you may want to ask a health practitioner about ideas to help even your hormonal swings.  Some gynecologists will have ideas; you might also consider asking a naturopath, acupuncturist, or midwife.

If you feel down all the time or grouchy all the time – don’t ignore it!  You might have an underlying health issue that is causing problems and need some help.  This is just the tip of the iceberg for staying healthy (for instance gluten makes me terribly grumpy and gives me migraines)- can you think of other things people should look into?  What’s your number one health recommendation for moms?

Wishing you health,


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen Fischer November 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Always a good reminder. In grad school, I thought I might be hypoglycemic but instead of having me get checked, my doctor simply told me to improve my diet and start keeping nuts on hand. Around that same time, my brother told me once (when I called – AGAIN – in a very bad/distraught mood) to go eat something and then call him back. I ate a healthy meal and no longer needed to call him. There is so much truth to the importance of paying attention to our health and diet, especially as busy moms. Also, I am so glad you mentioned Vitamin B. I do not think people realize how significant it is, but I recently had a stretch where I was VERY sick and could not figure out what was going on – it turned out that I had a Vitamin B deficiency that was causing all sorts of other problems for me (including a citrus allergy).


Alissa Marquess November 11, 2012 at 5:35 am

Interesting about the allergy Jen. Yes, I find that in order to stay clear headed ahve to either take a b-vitamin supplement or be eating foods that contain enough b’s. Green smoothies work well for me; also liver is a very good source of b-vitmins, but harder for some to get interested in eating. I happen to like liverwurst a lot and make chicken liver pate sometimes and like that.


Nena September 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Yes. I get really grumpy and overwhelmed if I don’t eat. My friend calls it being “hangry” a portmanteau of “hungry” and “angry.”


Jennifer G April 3, 2014 at 9:04 am

I know this reply is late, but your Dr should still have had your blood sugar checked (and if you read this you want to have some testing done now) I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia in high school and was warned that it could progress to diabetes. And shortly after my first son was born, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I don’t know how long I have had diabetes because NO DOCTOR every thought it was important enough to check!!! I am so grateful for the one (fantastic) Dr who finally thought my health was important and sent me for the test immediately upon hearing my symptoms.


Chrissy @ The Outlaw Mom Blog November 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I was just thinking that I should probably get to the lab to finally do the blood workup my doctored ordered…um….almost a year ago…So easy to forget about yourself when you’re worrying about the kids and other things. Good tips :-)


Alissa Marquess November 11, 2012 at 5:31 am

I’m the same way – it’s so easy to put off because it’s a pain tot to do the legwork of getting babysitting or other schedule rearrangements. Seeing a couple friends find out they had health issues that were majorly impacting their lives, yet were solvable has motivated me to be more on top of taking care of myself.


Teresa November 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Thanks for sharing this! I have struggled with all but the thyroid issues, and I think you are so right–all of these issues combined with a lack of sleep can create huge struggles with a good attitude on a daily basis!


Kir November 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I love this post. I have found a lot of help on the stop the thyroid madness blog. Stuff like finding a good doctor and what labs are helpful. I have found parenting to be a lot more fun now!


Alissa Marquess November 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Thanks Kir, I haven’t dealt with thyroid issues, but have a number of friends who have and I know once they got on the correct treatment plan it has really made a big difference in helping them feel better! I’ve heard them mention the same blog.


Kristin November 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I stumbled across this on pinterest and just wanted to say this is a great article! Women need to read stuff like this. I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition 2 months ago, but it was totally by accident – a routine check-up. Since being on medication, my life has DRASTICALLY improved. I wish I had gone to a doctor earlier since it has taken nearly 2 months to get back to any semblance of normality. Thanks for writing this!


Alissa Marquess November 11, 2012 at 5:27 am

So glad you’re feeling better, Kristin and thank you for sharing. I hope it motivates more moms to find out if they could feel a lot better by addressing some underlying health issues!


Tellina November 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

If PMS is an issue, keep close track of your cycle. Knowing it is coming helps me mentally prepare. I also set my calendar to remind me not to agree to do anything extra a week before my period. There are unavoidable things, but I also tend to say yes to everything in that week. Then I am so exhausted and overwhelmed the week surrounding the start of my cycle I am nasty to my loved ones. It also helps me physically prepare. I remember to eat more iron rich foods, sleep and avoid caffeine.


Alissa Marquess November 11, 2012 at 5:24 am

Tellina – thanks for your simple, usable advice!


Africa S. LopezdeAlonso February 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Thank, you I need that information today!!!, it really help me.


Marie Perrotta February 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Yes just found out I was chronically anaemic – and was feeling so grumpy and couldn’t control it, and hated feeling like that! I was starting to question my sanity sometimes, but once I got back onto my naturopath and identified a few things and got my health more in balance, I had so much more emotional control!


Stephanie B June 10, 2013 at 7:40 pm

when I just had given birth to my son, I was weak,tired and very irritable and almost felt like I was losing my mind until one day I started losing my hair and.found.out I had an overactive thyroid. on top of that I was hypoglycemic, and my hormones were out of whack( often brought on by a hyperthyroid). No wonder I was going crazy.now after a year,I am.finally balanced after taking an herbal supplement, now I am battling with anemia and hypoglycemia. its a hard thing,amd I have to make sure I eat good nd take iron supplements,bot it really makes me feel terrible.


Chelsea @ Moments A Day July 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm

What a useful post! Two weeks ago I got my bloods checked for feeling unusually tired over the past month… turns out everything is fine except I’m severely low in Vit D. I live in sunny Australia so have to be very careful about sun exposure because it’s so strong here… we usually just stay covered up, in shade, or wear hats etc. Now however I’ll have to be “less” careful – and take supplements. I’m going to share this with some other moms I know, too! Thanks for posting.


Donna K September 24, 2013 at 11:36 am

I wanted to shout out to tell you that I appreciate your postings.
I have been on antidepressants for several years now. Along the way, I have had to get them increased in dosage and changed up for stronger drugs.This year, I have determined is the year to free myself from these drugs with God’s help. I have spend this entire year marching myself down off of them in a safe way.
Now I am finding myself back in the same place as when I first went on them. Depressed, quick tempered, fatigued, unfocused, forgetful… Doc tested for thyroid and said it was fine. Not sure what the next step is. I am seeing a natural med pharmacist who mixes me up some tablets to help but I am still feeling that something is amiss.
It may be time to see another doctor.


Glenys September 25, 2013 at 5:14 am

Hi. There can be so many things. For me a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue and a Dr who specialises in these have helped so much – reducing wheat had a big effect on the brain fog and therefore frustration. Also for me dairy and eggs. Then B12 to help detox and Vit D. Still doing more tests but even those have helped greatly so that instead of thinking that I was actually going mad, I can now think and reason.


Hafsa December 15, 2013 at 10:43 am

I am loving your blog the more I read it. I have been thinking that somehow my health and mood swings are related and planning on going for a checkup for ages. After reading this, I may finally do it. Its heartening to know I am not the only one going thru these mom issues. Hope you check out my blog too


morgan January 26, 2014 at 9:26 am

Great list! Would love to see adrenal issues added to the list. They can often be an underlying cause to almost all of these issues but rarely noticed by medical doctors. My third ND finally pin pointed adrenal deficiency as the root cause for me and since treating those first I’m finally starting to feel better!


Alissa Marquess January 29, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Morgan – great point about Adrenal issues causing grumpiness and fatigue. And if from what I’ve learned, lack of sleep can certainly play into those issues as well, certainly a possible issue for those of us with youngsters waking frequently.


Melanie B. January 26, 2014 at 9:26 pm

My doctor had blood work done on me and found my vitamin D levels were extremely low. She said that this can also cause irritability and short temper. After taking a supplement to get it back up, I was a much happier mom. The last couple of weeks I slacked on taking it consistently and have noticed that I am irritable once again. Something you might ask your doctor about too!


Linda February 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I found out this fall after a sleep study that I have severe sleep apnea. Now that I have adjusted to the CPAP machine, I find I feel so much better. Less grumpy and more clear minded. Add that to the list…


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