Although commonly joked about as a stereotypical symptom of menopause, mood swings are a real issue affecting many women. During the menopausal years, women experience hormonal imbalance, which can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms and make everyday activities much more difficult. Mood swings can put a significant strain on relationships, productivity level, and overall health.
Mood Swings during Menopause
A mood swing is a sudden emotional shift between happiness, anger, or sadness. For menopausal women, these changes may occur without warning and may leave them feeling as though they have no control over their emotions. The primary cause of mood swings is decreased levels of estrogen, an essential hormone in a woman's body. Less estrogen leads to a decreased level of serotonin, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. The key to controlling your mood swings during menopause is to regulate hormone levels.
Tips for Controlling Mood Swings during Menopause
This simple adjustments in lifestyle can make mood swings much more manageable.
Eating can help with mood swings if you consume the right nutrients. To lessen the effects of mood swings, avoid spicy foods, nicotine, caffeine, and sugar. Try increasing your consumption of protein, whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Balancing your diet supports your body's natural processes and increases mood stability. Eating a snack or meal at regular intervals can also help prevent crashes in mood and energy.
Changes in sleep habits are common during menopause, and not getting enough sleep can exacerbate menopause symptoms. Rest is vital in maintaining physical and emotional health in all stages of life, but it is especially important to get adequate sleep during menopause. It's recommended to have at least seven hours each night.
At times, the thought of being socially active might be unappealing for menopausal women experiencing frequent mood swings. Changes in body and mind may deter you from getting out and about. Spending time with friends and family, though, is an essential way to stay socially healthy and lift low spirits.
The increased endorphin levels that exercise provides are great for relieving stress and stabilizing your mood. Daily physical activity promotes overall health of body and mind. Running, swimming, cycling, walking, and other activities can have a significant positive impact on mood swings.
After a long day at work, take some time to relax. Set aside an hour for yourself and read, nap, watch TV, go for a walk, or take a bath. Try some relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga to reduce stress and encourage tranquility.
It may sound silly, but try to smile every day. Even if you don't want to, smiling makes you a happier, more relaxed person. Laughter has been shown to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and improve mood.
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- Love, S. & Lindsey, K. (2003). Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- Mayo Clinic. (2013). Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
- Shansky, R.M. et al. (2004). Estrogen mediates sex differences in stress-induced prefrontal cortex dysfunction. Molecular Psychiatry, 9, 531-538. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v9/n5/full/4001435a.html