Menopause Mood Swings

Facts About Menopause and Mood Swings

Menopause and mood swings very often occur in conjunction with one another and both can have dramatic effects on a woman’s life. Understanding that both menopause and mood swings are a natural occurrence and are a basic part of life for most women will help you learn to deal with the problems they create. Mood swings that are directly related to menopause occur because of physical and hormonal changes that a woman cannot control. The best option for someone suffering from mood swings as part of menopause is to learn to understand when your mood changes and why it changes so rapidly, so that you can take appropriate steps to help relieve the discomfort they present.

Menopause is the permanent end to fertility and menstruation in a woman’s life cycle. It occurs when a woman has not had a period in one year and can last anywhere from 3-5 years. Most women begin to experience perimenopause (pre-menopause) symptoms around 40-50 years of age. The ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone during menopause as well as stopping the production of eggs. Because of this, a woman becomes infertile when menopause hits. Some of the symptoms of menopause include: changing periods, hot flashes, fatigue, skin flushing, sleeping problems, vaginal dryness and mood swings. These symptoms are the result of the lessening progesterone and estrogen levels in the body.

Mood swings are characterized as rapid emotional changes, with feelings of irritability, sadness and anger. 50% of women living with menopause will experience mood swings. It is important to recognize that extreme changes in mood during menopause are a naturally occurring medical condition. It is not an illness and there is little that can be done to stop it. Understanding why mood swings occur will help you realize that they are not your fault, which can make you feel slightly better about them.

During menopause, the regular activities of a woman may create new emotional responses from her. Seemingly normal events or activities may provoke sudden feelings of sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, loss and annoyance. As frustrating as these sudden changes in mood can be for the patient, they can be equally as frustrating for family and friends, who may not understand their cause. The woman experiencing the mood swings may not even understand her symptoms. While the direct cause of mood swings is not 100% clear, a fluctuation of hormone levels caused by the lack of progesterone and estrogen is most likely the main culprit. These hormones are responsible for controlling serotonin, which is the brain chemical that controls moods. The many other symptoms of menopause, such as sleep disruption, hot flashes and fatigue can serve to disrupt the woman’s mental state as well, causing changes in mood. Being extremely tired and fatigued causes stress as it is. This can help create feelings of aggression, melancholy and a lack of motivation.

There are several treatments available for women suffering from menopause and mood swings. Some of these include hormonal therapies, exercise and lifestyle changes. Hormone therapy can work well, but may have long term risks that should be discussed with your doctor. Exercise has been proven to raise the levels of serotonin in the brain and will help focus energy into a positive role. It can also help with sleep patterns. Changes in lifestyle and diet can also help, as some foods can help boost serotonin.  Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking as they can make symptoms worse. Anxiety and stress relieving practices will also help with emotional changes. Yoga, massage, meditation and acupuncture all work well. Support from friends and family or even support groups can help you come to grips with the new changes in your life and help you to understand that it is not your fault. Some herbal remedies can also be used to help relieve menopause symptoms.

In extreme cases, severe mood swings may require the assistance of a professional. Cases of severe depression or where there is a risk of harm to oneself or other, such as in cases of patients with clinical depression or bipolar disorder, may require a trained psychologist. Menopause and mood swings do not have to control your life. Knowing why and how they occur and the affects they may have on your emotions and feelings will help you to deal with these changes. 




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