When a woman experiences mood swings during menopause, she may have many questions about their causes, what symptoms are common, and how to manage them. Fortunately, by better understanding menopausal mood swings, women can find the best treatment options available for them. Read on to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about mood swings and menopause.
Q: What Are Mood Swings?
A: Mood swings are extreme or abrupt changes in mood. These fluctuations are often uncontrollable and disproportionate to the event that triggered them. In other cases, they seem to occur without obvious triggers.
Q: Are Mood Swings Common during Menopause?
A: Mood swings are a normal symptom of menopause that many women experience. According to a recent study, as many as 50% of all women experience mood swings during menopause. This means that although mood swings can be an entirely unnerving aspect of menopause, women who experience them are not alone.
Q: When Are Mood Swings Likely to Begin?
A: Though not all women go through mood swings during menopause, those who do are most likely to experience this symptom during perimenopause. Perimenopause is the span of time about 2 - 10 years prior to menopause, when periods become irregular and other symptoms of menopause usually appear.
Q: What Do Mood Swings Feel Like?
A: While all women experience mood swings differently, this menopause symptom is characterized by rapid changes in emotion, often from extreme highs to extreme lows. A woman can be filled with energy and feeling great one moment, and become exhausted and depressed the next. The following are typical symptoms of mood swings:
Common Symptoms of Mood Swings
- Frequent, extreme changes in mood
- Inexplicable emotions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased patience
- Increased stress
- Lack of motivation
While mood swings are a common occurrence in menopause, women who are worried about mood swings are wise to speak with a trusted healthcare professional. Read on to learn more about the causes of mood swings.
Q: What Causes Mood Swings?
A: While a variety of factors can cause mood swings, hormonal changes are the root cause of mood swings during menopause. Other menopause symptoms, such as night sweats and hot flashes, can also lead to mood swings. When a woman's hormone levels are thrown off balance during menopause, it can affect the brain's regulation of mood and emotion. This hormonal effect is similar to what some women experience as PMS or post-partum depression at other times in their lives.
Some women are more prone to experiencing mood swings during menopause. Read on to learn more about the risk factors for mood swings.
Q: Are Some Women More Susceptible to Mood Swings?
A: Yes, a number of factors can increase a woman's risk of experiencing mood swings during menopause. Lifestyle, environment, and certain health conditions can make a woman more susceptible to suffering from mood swings, as listed below.
- History of mental illness
- Excessive stress
- Past trauma
- Relationship issues
- Coping with change
- Alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
- Inadequate exercise
- Stimulant use
- Thyroid disease
- Early menopause
- Heart disease
- Sleep disorders
Q: When Should a Woman Seek Medical Attention for Mood Swings?
A: Mood swings during menopause do not necessarily require medical attention. However, any woman who is concerned about her psychological health during menopause will likely benefit from consulting a trusted professional. Women for whom the following applies might want to speak with a qualified medical healthcare professional:
- History of psychological distress or disorders
- Mood swings that significantly disrupt normal life
- Significant relationship issues
- Persistent or overwhelming emotional disturbances
- Other health problems
- Symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorder
Q: How Can a Woman Cope with Mood Swings?
A: During menopause, women can take certain steps to alleviate the effects of mood swings. For example, it is often helpful to seek support and understanding from family and friends whenever necessary. Lifestyle modifications can also be made to better manage this symptom.
Lifestyle Changes to Alleviate Mood Swings
- Stress reduction methods
- Breathing exercises
- Adequate sleep
- Regular exercise
- Balanced diet
While these methods can greatly ease the symptoms of mood swings, they alone cannot treat the root cause, which is hormonal imbalance. Luckily, several natural remedies are available to help a woman cope with mood swings. Keep reading to learn more about how to manage mood swings.
Q: Are Mood Swings Treatable?
A: Yes! In addition to lifestyle changes, a woman can use natural remedies to treat hormonal imbalances; it is these hormonal imbalances that trigger mood swings and other menopause symptoms. Natural remedies are a safe and effective option for women who continue to experience menopause symptoms despite implementing lifestyle changes. These treatment options are non-invasive and free from the side effects often experienced with more invasive medical options.
Q: Why Do Some Women Experience Mood Swings Even While Taking Hormone Replacement?
A: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), while appropriate for some women, has been linked to several physical and emotional health risks. These risks include nausea, breast tenderness, headache, fluid retention, and mood changes. Before opting for HRT, women are encouraged to first seek the least aggressive routes to relief, including lifestyle changes and natural treatments. Each woman may respond to treatment differently depending on her baseline hormone levels and other factors.
Q: What Are the Best Ways to Cope with Mood Swings?
A: Three approaches can be considered for treating mood swings: (1) lifestyle changes, (2) alternative remedies, and (3) medications. Most experts recommend that women begin with the least aggressive approach and move to the next level of treatment only if symptoms persist. Click on treatments for mood swings to discover the best route to relief.
- 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.
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause and mental health. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-mental-health/