For many women, irritability is an unfortunate side of menopausal mood swings. In fact, around half of women experience irritability during the menopause transition. Defined as overreaction to situations, irritability is often caused by hormonal imbalance during in menopause and compounded by other menopause symptoms. It does not always interfere with a woman's daily life, but it can put a strain on professional and family relationships. Nonetheless, along with mood disorders and other symptoms of menopause that can trigger it, irritability can be successfully treated.
Three Approaches to Treating Irritability
When managing irritability, there are three approaches to consider: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.
These approaches can be used in combination as necessary depending on the individual woman and her ways of coping with stress and emotional changes. However, it is generally recommended that women start with the least risky treatment approach - lifestyle changes - before advancing to other treatments. Medications are typically used only when all other options have proven ineffective.
1. Lifestyle Changes
The first tier of treatment entails the least risk, but conversely, it requires the most self-discipline of any of the approaches. For many women, making minor lifestyle adjustments will help alleviate irritability and promote calm moods in addition to improving overall health. They can also help relieve other menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and insomnia, which often contribute to irritability.
Dietary changes are the first step in managing irritability. A well-balanced diet provides the body with all the nutrients it needs. In particular, some foods can help increase levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. In addition, foods that contain phytoestrogens - or plant-based estrogen compounds - can help raise estrogen levels and thereby relieve irritability symptoms. Soy, rye, and apples all contain phytoestrogens.
Foods to Boost Serotonin Levels
- Spinach and leafy greens
- Whole grain foods
- Dark chocolate
Implementing an exercise routine is another essential step in relieving irritability. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. In addition, yoga and Pilates are exercises that foster relaxation and teach deep breathing techniques to maximize calmness. The benefit of aerobic exercises - such as running, cycling, and swimming - continues long after the workout has finished. Regular physical activity also improves overall health and can lessen other menopause symptoms.
Finally, it is essential to avoid bad habits and potential triggers. Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and consuming too much caffeine are all habits that adversely affect the nervous system and could thereby exacerbate mood problems. In addition, high stress levels and lack of sleep can worsen irritability, and external stressors often act as triggers for overreaction. Learning new personalized stress management techniques may help in coping with emotions like irritability, since stressors and hormones change during menopause.
Stress Management Techniques
- Yoga and Pilates
- Deep breathing
- Spending time with a pet
- Joining a support group
- Getting enough sleep
Lifestyle changes are a holistic and helpful way to manage irritability, but they can be difficult to put into practice. Additionally, not all lifestyle adjustments address hormonal imbalances, the underlying cause of most menopausal irritability. Fortunately, some alternative medicines are able to treat both the symptoms and hormonal imbalance. Keep reading to find out more about natural treatments for irritability.
2. Alternative Medicine
Massage, biofeedback, and aromatherapy are just some of the options included in the alternative approach. However, the most prominent treatment is herbal supplements, because they are easier to follow, require less time and money than other options, and they are capable of balancing hormone levels.
Herbal Teas for Reducing Irritability
There are two primary types of herbal supplements that can affect hormone levels: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements.
These supplements, such as soy, raise hormone levels by introducing plant-based estrogen into the body. This can balance estrogen levels, but their long-term use is not recommended, given that putting outside hormones into the body can eventually diminish the body's ability to produce natural hormones. This can result in a decline in estrogen levels in the long run, making only short-term use advisable.
These supplements, such as Macafem, nourish the hormonal glands rather than using external hormones. Their nutrients support the natural hormone production of the endocrine system, balancing other hormones in addition to estrogen. Since they have virtually no side effects, they can also be used as long as necessary. These supplements are also effective in relieving other symptoms of menopause.
From "Nature and Health Magazine," Dr. Gloria Chacon says:
"Macafem nutrients help restore natural hormones in women. Unlike hormone drugs, which are basically resumed in taking synthetic hormone, Macafem acts totally different in your body. It nourishes and stimulates your own natural hormone production, by inducing the optimal functioning of the endocrine glands." Click on the following link to learn more about Macafem and how it works.
Employing a combination of approaches, especially lifestyle adjustments alongside alternative medicines, is frequently an effective treatment method. However, for severe cases of irritability that interfere with a woman's daily life, medical treatment may be appropriate. However, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits before progressing to this stage.
This approach is sometimes the quickest, but it involves the most risk and frequently high costs as well. In North America, the most commonly-used treatment for menopausal irritability problems is hormone replacement therapy or HRT. This method may be swift and potent, but it also poses the risk of adverse side effects, such as stroke and blood clots, as revealed in the study below.
In 1991, the National Institutes of Health launched the biggest clinical trial ever performed in the U.S., the Women's Health Initiative. Its objective was to define the pros and cons of HRT, and it was subsequently halted 11 years later, after the discovery that artificial hormones raise the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and heart disease.
In addition to HRT, mood-regulating medications are sometimes used, but they entail side effects and are not always designed to treat irritability specifically. When turning to medications for irritability or other mood disorders, it is important to consult a medical professional in order to evaluate the risks and choose the best treatment option.
These three approaches are not mutually exclusive. In other words, they can be combined as necessary to manage symptoms. An increasing number of women are finding that a blend of herbal supplements and lifestyle changes achieves the best results when treating irritability.
A Safe Way of Treating Irritability
Making lifestyle changes:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Regularly exercising
- Joining a support group
- Practicing stress management
- Consuming estrogen-boosting foods
- Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Personal triggers
And taking herbal supplements like Macafem:
- Supports the hormonal system and natural hormone production
- Safe, effective, natural, and full of nutrients
Click on the following link to find out more about Macafem.
- Amin, Z. , Canli, T. & Epperson, C.N. (2005). Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 4(1), 43-58. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15886402
- Lane, A.M. & Lovejoy, D.J. (2001). The effects of exercise on mood changes: the moderating effect of depressed mood. The Journal of Sports of Medicine and Physical Fitness, 41(4), 539-545.
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Learn to manage stress. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001942.htm
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause and mental health. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-mental-health/
- Young, S.N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 32(6), 394-399. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/