Strange Behaviors and Sudden Mood Changes

What is at the source of sudden mood changes or strange behaviors? – Caroline Dawson

Behavior is a form of communication. In fact, non-verbal behavior is MOST of what we communicate. So, what could possibly explain a client or loved one’s sudden mood or behavior change?  Here are the questions to consider:

Is there a medical issue? …environmental issue? …social issue? …emotional issue?…spiritual issue?

A medical assessment comes first. Read on to find out why.

Here is a checklist to consider with your health provider:


I have observed:AgeWise FB Square Behaviors

– common cold virus lead to in-depth psychosis,
– urinary tract infections (UTI) causing significant confusion,  verbal and physical aggression,  sudden vulgar language and “sexually inappropriate behavior”,
– patients having mild complaints of “just feeling out of it and a little tired and achy around an old surgery site” and discover there is a deep septic infection.


Even mild dehydration can create complications for our aging clients and loved ones.


  • High Blood Pressure/Low Blood Pressure
  • thyroid issues
  • diabetes
  • other chronic medical conditions

Anxiety, depression, mood swings, lethargy, feeling unfocused are all common symptoms associated with these conditions. Routine blood tests often reveal something is out of balance.


Medications associated with the chronic conditions listed above as well as a whole host of other issues can contribute to mood and behavior changes.

Just because someone has been on X medication for years doesn’t mean it isn’t contributing to a new complication now. Also, just because X medication was introduced to relieve an issue doesn’t mean that it might not be contributing to a mood or behavior change.


Unacknowledged or untreated pain contributes to both behavior and mood changes. Check in. Does something hurt? What can be done to alleviate that? Is the pain new? Could it be infection related? (see above)


Sometimes early symptoms of disease processes are subtle and go unnoticed until there is a more pronounced issue.

  • A fall,
  • car accident,
  • a wound that is not healing as expected,
  • sleeping significantly more or less
  • increased confusion
  • increased agitation
  • or bizarre behavior (and more)

These could all be a red flags of a new medical issue. Early detection and treatment often equals better outcomes.

Always follow up with a medical professional to rule out medical issues.

*Do not start or stop taking medications without physician oversight.*

In the case of medical issues, antibiotics, a change in medication dosage or even just a few glasses of water can in some cases make all the difference in quality of life.

AgeWise Quote behavior

If there is a medical issue, and it remains undiagnosed and/or untreated the mood and behavior change is unlikely to resolve.  Physical symptoms will worsen and continue to contribute to distress. In untreatable circumstances this may be the case – however as outlined above there are many, very treatable, common reasons for mood and behavior shifts.

If after considering medical issues there isn’t a clear answer to why your client or loved one is experiencing mood and/or behavior changes, it’s time to investigate environmental, social, emotional and spiritual shifts.

Stay tuned. I’ll discuss these in a future blog.

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