Mood swings can be tough to deal with. Often, there seems to be no comfort besides some unhealthy food and laying under your covers. During the peak of your mood swing episode, you may not be able to get a hold of your emotions. This can be alarming, uncomfortable, and bring you down. Read on for some facts that are helpful in understanding your mood swings, to better cope.
Hormones Are a Major Culprit
During menopause, hormone levels drop. Sex hormones such as progesterone and estrogen, which have been so integral to your body's normal functioning since puberty - especially around your period - plummet and leave you off balance.
Estrogen is essential for regulating mood; as the levels drop, this directly affects your brain chemistry. Serotonin lowers, which can cause depressive feelings. Also, endorphin release is disturbed, which increases stress and more cortisol to be produced - further entrapping you in panicked emotions.
Length and Severity Differ
Women usually experience moderate mood swings, where emotions change over a couple of hours throughout the course of the day. Waves of sadness, anger, and joy will wash over each other and make you quite disoriented. However, you are usually able to tend to your daily activities to some degree, with the ability to brush your feelings to the side if need be.
Severe and extreme mood swings, which can be more likely to occur during menopause, may result in your feelings changing extremely rapidly, even every 15 minutes. You can go from explosive sobs to yelling for no identifiable reason. It can even lead to mild violence if anger is the primary emotion.
Moderate mood swings usually last about a day but can last up to a week; after this amount of time, you may be at risk for depression. Severe mood swings should last no longer than four days, or else it may indicate a serious condition, like bipolar disorder.
Watch What You Consume
When you are feeling low, you may seek certain items to make you feel better. This differs from person to person. Some women go searching for sugary foods, others prefer drowning their feelings with fatty foods, and some turn to substances. Alcohol, highly caffeinated drinks, and illegal synthetic drugs are sometimes abused in times of negative emotions. All of these choices for consumption, though some worse than others, are only temporary distractions from your feelings. The effect quickly fades, leaving you far more irritable and melancholy than you were.
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats will help sustain stability. It can also help even hormone levels, which will reduce both mood swings and menstrual irregularities.
Time in Nature Helps
Staying in your room might seem like the most comforting idea at the time, but in fact, you are more likely to obsessively worry when in an enclosed, familiar space. Take a drive or a walk to a nearby (or faraway) park, beach, or nature trail. Walking briskly releases endorphins, which calm you. Hum your thoughts away and get some vitamin D from the sun, which will increase your serotonin levels and uplift you.
Afterwards, sit under a shady tree and read your favorite book or people watch and realize that those overwhelming worries were really not as bad as they seemed.
When you have more of an understanding as to what is going on during a mood swing, its grip on you will not be as strong. Instead of worrying about why you feel a certain way or dwelling in a pool of sorrow, you can rest assured that there is a way out.
- Grohol, J. (2007). All about Mood Swings. Retrieved on January 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/all-about-mood-swings/000920
- Kowatch, R.A. , Monroe, E. & Delgado, S.V. (2011). Not all Mood Swings are Bipolar Disorder. Current Psychiatry, 10(2). Retrieved from http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/home/article/not-all-mood-swings-are-bipolar-disorder/7421647cc932604048d19d5d0e588848.html
- Marchand, W. , Dilda, V. & Jensen, C. (2005). Neurobiology of Mood Disorders. Hospital Physician, Sept, 17-26. Retrieved from http://www.turner-white.com/pdf/hp_sep05_mood.pdf