During menopause, the body goes through some dramatic changes. Hormone levels, emotions, and behaviors may all fluctuate frequently and unexpectedly. Your moods may spike or lower suddenly, without much explanation. It is important to understand the causes of your hormonal fluctuations and mood swings as well as ways to reduce their frequency and severity.
Hormonal Influence on Mood
Menopause brings a natural decrease in the levels of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. This change in estrogen directly affects your brain chemistry. "Happy neurotransmitters" such a serotonin and endorphin may become reduced, while stress response hormones, namely cortisol, can increase. This increases anxiety levels and causes you to respond to everyday situations differently than you did before.
External situations may set off a mood swing when you are more susceptible to them due to hormonal fluctuations. Each woman has her own triggers, but some are common among many. Stress and excess caffeine consumption can increase the intensity of mood swings.
The most common lifestyle triggers for mood swings are a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. When you are not active and eat many processed foods, it can only intensify your reactions to hormonal changes. It's important to include around 2.5 hours of physical activity in your weekly schedule to maintain good overall health and encourage hormone balance. Whether it is serotonin-boosting cardio or endorphin-boosting yoga, you will feel better after you exercise. Make sure to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
To get to the root of your menopause symptoms, try taking phytoestrogenic herbal supplements. These have been shown in research to decrease mood swings episodes and hormones fluctuations by replacing lost estrogen. Soy, black cohosh, and dong quai are among the most effective for aiding with mood swings and hormones. Lemon balm and valerian are herbs that can promote tranquility.
Try not to let your fluctuating moods get the best of you, but instead seek support from friends and family, form new healthy habits, and try herbal remedies. Understanding the root cause of your menopausal mood swings is the best way to start your treatment journey. If your mood swings are severe and persistent, or lifestyle and herbal remedies are not working, talk to you doctor about other treatment options.
- National Institutes of Health. (2015). Dong quai. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/936.html
- Office of Dietary Supplements. (2008). Black Cohosh. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/
- Office on Women's Health. (2009). Physical activity (exercise) fact sheet. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/physical-activity.html