If you're going through menopause, you might be suffering from mood swings. Research shows that more than 50% of menopausal women experience mood swings, in addition to many other symptoms like irregular periods and hot flashes.
These abrupt and often uncontrollable changes in emotion may make it seem like you're on an emotional rollercoaster. These changes in mood are the result of imbalanced hormone levels. Keep reading below to learn more about how hormones affect your mood swings.
Hormonal Causes of Mood Swings
During menopause, your body slowly decreases its production of reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen. As these levels fluctuate they cause the body to function abnormally and produce many of the symptoms menopausal women experience, including mood swings. Research indicates that estrogen plays an integral role in the brain's production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. When estrogen levels drop, so do serotonin levels.
In addition to decreased estrogen levels, several psychological and behavioral factors can cause mood swings. The chances of mood swings increase for:
- Women who have suffered from severe PMS symptoms
- Women who suffer from post-partum depression
- Women who have had their ovaries removed or whose ovaries have stopped functioning
- Women with a history of depression or other mental illnesses
- Women with sleep disorders
- Women with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or lupus
Menopausal Symptoms: The Domino Effect
While hormone imbalance is the primary cause of mood swings, they can also be triggered by other menopausal symptoms. Night sweats can trigger mood swings because your body is physically fatigued from sleep disturbances, leading to feelings of irritability and lack of focus. The general discomfort caused by hot flashes may also lead to mood swings.
Your attitude towards aging could also lead to mood swings. As women go through menopause and begin to cope with infertility, they sometimes feel less attractive or desirable. If you're experiencing this, share your concerns with women who can empathize with your changes and symptoms.
Extreme Cases of Mood Swings
As discussed, mood swings are a common symptom of menopause. However, if you are experiencing mood swings that last for an extended period of time or are severe, you should consult a doctor immediately. These symptoms might be the sign of a more serious condition, such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, or anxiety. Click here to continue reading more about identifying extreme cases of mood swings.
In many cases, mood swings can be regulated by making simple changes to your lifestyle, such as cutting back on caffeine, eating more carbohydrates and protein, and exercising regularly. Remember that for most women, mood swings are a passing menopausal symptom that gradually goes away once they reach postmenopause.
- Amin, Zenab, Turhan Canli, and C. Neill Epperson. "Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition". Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev 2005; 4; 43.
- Dr. Love, Susan, and Karen Lindsey. Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- Molecular Psychiatry. (n.d)."Estrogen Promotes Gender Difference in Brain's Response to Stress". Retrieved from www.psycheducation.org.
- The Health Center.(n.d)."Adult Mood Swings". Retrieved from www.thehealthcenter.info.