Mood Swings during Menopause
Menopause can be a rollercoaster ride for many women - up one day, down the next! You may find your children more annoying than usual or you might fall apart if your coffee's not prepared the right way. Television shows can seem particularly heart wrenching and co-workers especially frustrating. Sometimes the slightest thing will make you fly off the handle, into a fit of rage! Though you may feel out of control, you actually are experiencing one of the most common symptoms of menopause mood swings.
Sad or Angry?
Mood swings have a certain knack for making you feel completely lost. Your emotions may be so out of whack that you may not even know whether you should be sad or angry in certain situations! Though you probably feel like you are completely off your rocker, actually, more than 15% of women experience similar emotional difficulties during menopause. However, mood swings can be frustrating, not only for you, but for your family as well. Luckily, there are a number of effective ways to deal with moods swings, from botanical supplements to exercise and diet changes.
Mood swings are generally defined as rapidly changing moods. They are one of the most misunderstood menopause symptoms, with many doctors simply not recognizing the extremes that menopausal women face on a daily basis. Women are often lambasted by their children or partner for feeling happy one minute and sad the next. In order to deal with them effectively, it is important to understand the root cause of these mood swings and the factors that can make them worse.
What Causes Mood Swings
Mood swings during menopause are still a cause for great debate. No one is entirely sure what the exact cause of mood swings is but it is generally accepted that fluctuating hormones are responsible for these emotional whirlwinds. During menopause, your body no longer produces any eggs for fertilization. As a result, your body stops producing hormones that trigger ovulation and menstruation. Gradually, your periods and ovulation will become more erratic, sending your hormones into an up-and-down spiral!
These constantly fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone, and androgens have a definite effect on your mental state. These hormones control serotonin levels in your brain, which is the chemical that manipulates mood. If your serotonin happens to drop, so will your mood; if it rises, your mood will go along with it. However, others believe that mood swings during menopause are due to the intense symptoms associated with early menopause.
You have probably already experienced sweaty hot flashes, brutal insomnia, and extreme fatigue. These symptoms can leave you exhausted, cranky, and irritated beyond belief. And the more tired you get, the more you find that all those little things bother you.
Menopausal symptoms can be very intense for some women, making life even more stressful. Perimenopause often arrives at very inopportune times, increasing your stress and emotions. Menopause tends to coincide with retirement, kids leaving home, and other major life-changing events. It is no wonder that menopausal women have emotions that are all over the place!
Get Back into the Swing of Things
Mood swings don't have to rule female menopause. There are a few simple things that you can do to help yourself feel more in control. The best thing that you can probably do when you feel intense emotion is to recognize that you may be having a mood swing. Just knowing that you are not crazy and that there is a reason for your emotions can help you feel much more in command of your body. Recognizing situations of stress and finding a way to put them on hold for a while can also maximize your control.
Exercise and diet can also go a long way to curbing mood swings. Exercising 20 minutes a day, three times a week can help you to focus your energy and forget your emotions for a little while. It also helps restore broken sleep patterns, which lead to anxiety, anger, and irritability. Eating right can boost serotonin levels in your brain, helping you to feel more upbeat and energized. Complex carbohydrates found in peas, beans, and other foods help to raise serotonin levels, as does hot milk. Eating small meals and a number of snacks throughout the day can also give you the energy you need to deal with fluctuating emotions.
Some women find alternative therapies particularly helpful in fighting off mood swings. Natural remedies for menopause such as yoga, meditation, massage, and acupuncture can provide stress relief and give you time for personal reflection. Herbal remedies for menopause, such as kava kava, hops, and black cohosh have also been proven to help balance moods. 20 minutes of sun exposure every day can also lighten your mood and your day.
When experiencing mood swings it can be very helpful to speak with others. Consult your doctor if your menopause treatment is ineffective in minimizing your mood swings. Joining a support group or finding a circle of understanding friends can help you accept the symptoms of menopause and deal with them appropriately. Friends can also make you laugh, which is one of the most effective mood-improvers ever!
Chat with other women about the many symptoms of menopause, like mood swings, in our menopause forum.