Most women believe that menopause only means you’ll have hot flashes and night sweats. However, did you know that mood swings are a natural part of the premenopausal and menopausal period?
The symptoms are similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), only the symptoms tend not to last just a few weeks but can last for many months or years. Fluctuating hormones are the cause of this emotional turmoil and while severity will vary from woman to woman, it is not uncommon for women to start crying or go into a rage for no apparent reason.
Mood Swings and Menopause Symptoms
The typical emotional symptoms seen in menopause and in the premenopausal state include the following:
• Lack of motivation
• Feelings of sadness or tearfulness
• Problems concentrating
• Changes in mood, sometimes drastic and unexplainable
• Increased tension
If you are a woman between the ages of 40 to 60 years, the mood swings, including sadness and irritability, often go hand in hand with being in menopause. These symptoms are more likely to occur if you have a prior history of mood swings, premenstrual syndrome, or depression. Rather than just deal with the symptoms, suffering for many years, it pays to seek the advice of your healthcare provider because there are things that can be done to control these symptoms. Other psychiatric or medical conditions can also be responsible for your symptoms and your provider can check these out before assuming the symptoms are just related to menopause.
Things like minimal memory difficulties and problems concentration are also signs of perimenopause and menopause. Most of these symptoms tend to be extremely temporary and no one knows why these memory changes occur and there is no specific treatment available for them.
Coping with Mood Swings and Emotional Changes Associated with Menopause
There are lifestyle changes and medications that can be used to control the mood swings and emotional changes that occur with menopause once your doctor has determined that this is what the problem is all about. The most common symptoms you’ll find in menopause are feelings of sadness (depressive symptoms) and irritability.
These are things you can do in order to manage the change in emotions, which are usually due to fluctuating hormones during the menopausal state:
• De-stress your life. You need to take a look at those things that cause you the most stress and do what things you can in order to have as little stress in your life as possible. It may mean handling financial stressors, changing jobs, and managing relationships that are stressful to you.
• Exercise and get into a healthy diet. Dieting and exercising can help prevent not only the weight gain that can go along with menopause but these things can improve your mood without having to take medications.
• Stay away from alcohol and tranquilizers. These things are depressive agents so that you actually worsen your mood swings by taking them, especially if you use them on a regular basis.
• Keep a connection with your community and family members. These things can give you something to do besides feel bad and make for a longer, healthier life.
• Find a creative resource that helps you feel as though you are achieving something. If you have no hobbies or avocations, this is the time to find those that can improve your quality of life. It can be any hobby that interests you and that can help you feel less moody.
• Keep your friends close to you. People that maintain and nurture friendships can live longer and can have an improved quality of life.
• Try antidepressants or therapy. While depression is not directly caused by menopause, many women will experience a bout with depression when undergoing menopausal symptoms. Your doctor may be able to prescribe SSRI antidepressants or other mood stabilizers that can help control the symptoms. Therapy can help as well to control mood swings.
• Try hormone replacement therapy. There are many research studies indicating that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help reduce the mood swings and other emotional symptoms related to menopause. It is only effective in mild cases; in others, psychotherapy or antidepressants may be indicated.
• Get plenty of sleep. A big part of the mood swings in menopause is related to a lack of quality sleep. Studies out of the University of Pennsylvania have indicated that sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to menopausal symptoms. Use good sleep hygiene by sleeping in a dark room and using your bed for only sex and sleeping. Don’t take stimulant or eat large meals just before going to bed.
• Herbal Supplements. Many women may be able to find relief from menopausal mood swings by taking herbal supplements specifically for menopause, including black cohosh, and St. John’s Wort. If you are taking them with other medications, talk to your doctor before taking them as they can interfere with certain medicines you are already taking.
• Decrease caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant substance that can increase moodiness and jitteriness. As your ovarian hormones are already interfering with your mood, you don’t need the added effect of a stimulant in your system. Drink caffeinated beverages only in the morning and stop drinking them after lunch. Smoking can have similar effects so, if you smoke. This would be a good time to consider quitting.
Mood swings in menopause are not a myth. There are definite changes in a woman’s emotional resources during menopause that can be treated with lifestyle changes or with medications. Sometimes, it helps to simply keep in mind and remind yourself that menopause will end, and so will the mood swings.