Irritability Causes

By Menopause Now Editorial Team | Updated: Jun 18, 2020


Irritability is one of the physiological symptoms of menopause that can sometimes be hard to recognize, particularly because it can be difficult to differentiate between menopausal causes of irritability and irritability caused by external factors. The multitude of trials associated with this stage of a woman's life unfortunately also comes with many indirect problems - all of which can amplify feelings of stress and irritability. Awareness of some causes and triggers is helpful to cope with this emotion more easily.

Hormonal Causes

During menopause, the ovaries diminish production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Throughout the process, hormonal fluctuations will impact other chemicals in the body. Specifically, levels of estrogen correspond closely to levels of serotonin, an important mood-regulating neurotransmitter.

Studies have shown that when estrogen depletes, less serotonin is produced in the brain. It is widely acknowledged that this neurotransmitter has a significant influence on mood, and when its presence decreases, a person will become more prone to despondency, anger, and irritability.

Causes of irritability

Other Causes of Irritability

Understanding some of the various causes of irritability can be particularly helpful.

Menopause symptoms

A decrease in estrogen levels has another, indirect impact on mood in that it is also responsible for other symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes, incontinence, and changes in odor are just some of those which can be hard to manage, and they are often reason enough for stress and irritation.

Unfortunately, menopause causes many less than desirable side effects. Not all of them will affect every woman; however, some of the most common - such as irregular periods and mood swings - are likely to be experienced. The symptoms can be very inconvenient and difficult to deal with, often causing embarrassment and frustration. Having to cope with these will naturally cause irritation.

Existing personality traits

Some people are more inclined towards negativity and irritability in general. Women who have tended to have this disposition throughout the majority of their lives are likely to find that their temperament is worsened by the onset of menopause. If you know that you are prone to impatience and agitation, this awareness should hopefully allow you to be more considerate when in different circumstances that might cause this reaction. Check out the most available treatment options to help you cope with anger and irritability.


The ups and downs of daily life can be trying and stressful at times. In particular, unforeseen problems can cause severe irritability, negativity, or even depression. Unfortunately, such occasions are often unavoidable, but being aware of the fact that your emotions are specifically heightened during menopause may help you to process the reasons why you might react in certain ways. External influences on mood may relate to:

  • Relationship changes. The breakdown of a marriage, loved ones moving away, or loss of a friendship can cause you to become despondent and develop a general negative outlook on life. Having to cope with these changes is likely to make you more susceptible to irritability.

  • Financial hardship. Whether this be caused by employment problems, debt, or unexpected bills, it's no secret that most people will encounter issues related to money at some stage of their life. These worries can cause you to become extremely agitated, and if faced during menopause, they are likely to worsen mood swings.

  • Stress at work or other commitments. If you work in a fraught environment, or are feeling the pressures of exams or other commitments, you might exhibit signs of irritability.

Irritability can be triggered by a large number of factors, and can be heightened during menopause. Understanding the reasons why you feel increasingly or severely irritated is helpful when trying to come to terms with these mood swings. There is a wide variety of coping methods that have been beneficial for many women, such as exercises that can relieve irritability.  

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