Irritability Treatments

Fact checked Medically reviewed

Medically reviewed by Brenda G., MD | Written by Menopause Now Editorial Team | Updated: Feb 02, 2021


Feeling engulfed by sudden, unexplained irritability and not knowing how to control it can be truly disempowering for women during the menopausal transition. Fortunately, women seeking irritability treatment to save their sanity and relationships have a wide array of options at their disposal.

Keep on reading to discover how to stop being irritable, including resolving the underlying hormonal imbalance, taking charge of your emotional state, and enjoying joy and inner peace once again!

Three Approaches to Treating Irritability

There are three approaches to treating irritability during menopause: (1) Lifestyle changes, (2) Alternative medicine, and(3) Medications, starting from the safest, low-risk options and moving to more invasive treatments only if necessary.


Lifestyle Changes for Irritability Treatment

Lifestyle changes for irritability treatment

The first approach to treating irritability entails no risk, but it demands the most self-control. Nonetheless, implementing simple lifestyle changes can result in substantial improvements in mood and emotional well-being. 

Nutritious Diet

Because an unhealthy diet can contribute to poor mood, low energy, and hormonal imbalance, optimizing one's eating habits is of utmost importance when treating irritability. In order to compose a wholesome menopause diet, women are encouraged to consider including the following nutrients:

  • Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that help resolve hormonal imbalance in the body to treat symptoms, such as irritability, depression, anxiety, and mood swings.1
    • Oats, tomatoes, flax, alfalfa

  • Complex carbohydrates should be favored over refined sugar, such as white bread or pasta. Since they take longer to digest, they do not cause sudden blood sugar spikes and stimulant effects, including irritability.2
    • Quinoa, millet, amaranth,

  • Lean protein is important in irritability treatment as many of the mood-regulating neurotransmitters, such as dopamine or serotonin, as synthesized from amino acids, the building blocks of protein.2
    • Eggs, dairy, fish, beans

  • Healthy fats are key to treating irritability as people eating a low-fat diet are much more likely to be angry, hostile, and irritable than those eating adequate amounts of healthy fats.3
    • Avocado, olive oil, walnuts, sacha inchi

Regular Exercise

Staying physically active has numerous benefits on one's physical and emotional well-being. It can help treat irritability and improve mood by reducing stress and boosting the release of endorphins. As an added benefit, regular exercise can also help manage menopausal weight gain and keep the heart in good shape.

  • Amount: The general recommendation for middle-aged women is to engage in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week.4

  • Type: The best workout routines for irritability treatment consist of low to moderate aerobic workouts with muscle strengthening routines, like working with resistance bands or doing yoga.

  • Useful tips: Since vitamin D deficiency may contribute to poor mood and irritability, it is a good idea to do some workouts outdoors, including bike riding or brisk walking.5

  • Precautions: Because falling estrogen levels can affect bone health and put women at risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures, injury-prone and strenuous workouts should be avoided.

Wholesome Habits

Besides following a healthy diet and staying active, women can complement their irritability treatment with wholesome habits aimed at strengthening their psyche, nourishing the body from the inside out, and taking more control over their emotional health. They include the following:

  • Identifying triggers, such as conflictual relationships, as well as learning to avoid or cope with them can help women prevent irritability attacks and be more conscious of their emotions.

  • Releasing stress via meditation, deep breathing exercise, or biofeedback can help women manage anger and treat irritability as well as control their physiological responses to triggers more effectively.6,7

  • Improving sleep patterns can help prevent agitation, boost mood, and balance hormones. Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to handle everyday situations and control one's responses to them.8

  • Quitting addictions to nicotine, alcohol, and excessive caffeine is a key component of irritability treatments as all substances can contribute to emotional dysregulation, making it difficult to take charge of one's emotions.9

  • Trying home remedies may help relieve acute irritability. They include aromatherapy or infusions with soothing, relaxation-promoting herbs, like lavender, chamomile, or valerian.

Alternative Medicine for Irritability Treatment

Alternative medicine for irritability treatment

The second level of irritability treatment offers various options, with herbal supplements being the most popular ones. They are easy to follow, cause virtually no side effects, and tackle the root cause of irritability, hormonal imbalance.

There are two types of herbal supplements that can be invaluable in treating irritability: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.

Phytoestrogenic Supplements

Phytoestrogenic supplements, like gingko, contain phytoestrogens that exert weak estrogenic activities. When consumed, they mimic estrogen in the body, thus balancing its levels to treat irritability and other symptoms of menopause. However, long-term use of exogenous hormones is not recommended since they can make the body less capable of producing its own hormones, thus resulting in a hormonal decline.

Hormone-Regulating Supplements

Hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem, are made from plants that do not supply the body with exogenous hormones. Instead, they contain alkaloid compounds that nourish the endocrine glands, stimulating their own hormone production and, thus, relieving symptoms of anger and irritability. As such, these supplements can be used long-term and are considered one of the safest treatments for irritability and other menopausal symptoms.

From Nature and Health Magazine, Dr. Chacon says:

"Macafem's nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormones, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production by inducing the optimal functioning of the pituitary and endocrine glands." Click on the following link to learn more about Macafem.

Most women can find a solution to how to stop being irritable with a combination of lifestyle adjustments and herbal supplements. However, for those with severe symptoms, more conventional treatments may be more appropriate.


Conventional Medicine for Irritability Treatment

Conventional medicine for irritability treatment

Third-level interventions for treating irritability typically involve the highest cost and risks. However, because some medications for irritability may come with side effects, it is necessary to evaluate their use on an individual basis.

The two types of conventional irritability treatments at women's disposal include medications and psychotherapy. 


The choice of medications for irritability will greatly depend on what is causing it. While some do treat the underlying cause, most only relieve symptoms. They include the following:

  • Anxiolytic medications - like benzodiazepines or antidepressants - may be helpful in treating irritability due to underlying anxiety or depression.

  • Cause-specific medications may include those aimed at treating thyroid disorders, allergies, chronic pain, or other conditions that might be contributing to irritability.

  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was once the most popular treatment for menopause symptoms, including treating irritability. It supplies the body with synthetic hormones to promote balance and relieve symptoms. Although effective, HRT use has been linked to serious side effects and health risks, as shown in the studies below. 

A comprehensive analysis on worldwide data on HRT's side effects has revealed a strong link between HRT and breast cancer, ovarian cancer, blood clots, and strokes. The findings were published in the 2002 edition of JAMA and were confirmed in a more recent meta-analysis of HRT use.10 This 2019 Oxford University study also discovered that the risks of hormonal therapy may persist for over a decade after its discontinuation.11


Irritability treatment may also consist of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, either alone or in conjunction with medications for irritability.  Therapy is generally aimed at identifying the underlying cause of symptoms as well as teaching women better management skills to take control over their emotions.

The aforementioned three tiers of irritability treatment approaches can be used separately or combined as necessary to manage symptoms at hand. Many women passing through the menopausal transition find that focusing on wholesome lifestyle changes alongside herbal supplements helps them battle the symptoms without relying on medications.

A Safe Way of Treating Irritability

Implementing Lifestyle Changes:

  • Eating a balanced, nutritious diet with foods rich in phytoestrogens 
  • Keeping up with regular cardio and muscle-strengthening workouts
  • Reducing stress via yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises 
  • Avoiding triggers, improving sleep, and quitting addictions

And Taking Herbal Supplements:

  • Phytoestrogenic herbal supplements, like gingko
  • Or natural hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem

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