Menopausal mood swings are a fairly common symptom for middle-aged women, with as many as 50% of menopausal women experiencing them. They are often one of the more difficult aspects of the menopause transition as women and their loved ones try to adjust to these drastic changes in temperament.
It is important for friends and loved ones to understand that mood swings are a symptom of menopause and not a choice made by menopausal women. Awareness can aid in understanding and help loved ones react appropriately when women are experiencing mood swings.
About Mood Swings
Mood swings are a common symptom of menopause that often leave women and their loved ones confused as to what is going on. Women may act in a way that is completely uncharacteristic, and they may feel as though they are doing and saying things that they usually never would.
Mood swings are caused by levels of estrogen and progesterone fluctuating dramatically in the years surrounding menopause. These hormones control serotonin, the one of the neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for regulating mood. When these levels are unbalanced, women might react inappropriately, whether it be with a socially-incorrect or an overly intense one.
How Loved Ones Can Help with Mood Swings
Women's loved ones can help in a variety of ways. A few suggestions are listed below.
People who suspect that their loved one is experiencing mood swings due to menopause can discuss openly with her the changes that are occurring. Often, women or their loved ones might not connect their mood swing episodes with other menopause symptoms or might brush them off as a part of aging. Engaging in an open discussion will allow everyone involved to express their concerns and feel more understood.
When a loved one behaves irrationally, often an immediate reaction is to behave irrationally in response. But, sometimes taking the time to count to ten or taking deep breaths for a few minutes can remind everyone to put things into perspective.
Remember that mood swing episodes are just as troubling to the woman experiencing them as they are to her loved ones. During this transitional time, many women require extra love and support from their family and friends, so don't be shy about sharing an extra long hug or sending a kind note.
Mood swing episodes are difficult to deal with, but they do not have to rule a woman's life. Follow the links below to learn more about mood swing treatments.
- Amin, Z. , Canli, T. & Epperson, C.N. (2005). Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition. Behavorial and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 4(1), 43-58. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15886402
- Love, S. & Lindsey, K. (2003). Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press.