Managing Menopause Mood Swings
Menopause is a natural phase of life, but symptoms like mood swings can make it an uncomfortable one for many people. Changing hormones often contribute to a rollercoaster of emotions that can challenge your work, relationships, and more. We’ll delve into the science-backed information to help you understand—and most importantly, manage—menopause mood swings.
Causes of Mood Swings During Menopause
Not all women experience mood swings around menopause, and the severity of mood changes vary. Your mood is influenced by many factors, but it’s important to remember that menopause mood swings have a lot to do with hormones and physiology and are not a sign of weakness on your part.
The primary player in menopause-related mood swings is hormonal fluctuations. During perimenopause (the years leading to menopause), the ovaries gradually produce fewer hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen, in particular, plays a significant role in regulating mood. It regulates the production of neurotransmitters (chemical signals) in the brain. Fluctuating and decreasing estrogen levels affect the levels of “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine—and therefore your mood.
A History of Mood Issues
While anxiety and depression are different from mood swings, they’re also common during midlife. Experts believe that changing hormones also influence the development of these mood issues, and a history of anxiety and depression further increases your risk around menoapuse.
An estimated 40-50% of women in midlife are dealing with restless nights of poor sleep. Whether it’s night sweats, stress and anxiety, sleep apnea, or aching joints keeping you up, sleep deprivation is unfortunately a common experience. Even one night of poor sleep can leave you feeling irritable and tired, so it’s no surprise that chronic sleep deprivation contributes to mood swings.
Stress and Lifestyle Factors
Midlife brings more than hormonal changes. Many people find themselves in stressful times of transition in work, family, and caregiving. Your schedule may also make it hard to keep up with the healthy nutrition and exercise choices that help you feel your best. Ultimately, doing it all and adapting to changing responsibilities can take a toll on your ability to stay in control of your emotions.
Best Treatment for Menopause Mood Swings
Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) or Hormonal Contraception
Hormonal medications like MHT or hormonal contraception (birth control) contain estrogen and sometimes progestin. While not FDA-approved for this purpose, people taking MHT for other menopause symptoms have reported improvements in mood issues like depression.
The choice to use hormonal medications, as well as which type, depends on your stage of menopause and other symptoms. However, your mood may benefit from supplementing your fluctuating and decreasing hormone levels. All medications have risks and benefits, so consult with your healthcare provider about the right options for you.
Regular physical activity is one of the healthiest things you can do for both your body and mind. Exercise can help regulate hormones and increase the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Research consistently shows that exercise is as effective as medication in regulating mood and reducing the risk of anxiety and depression.
There’s no wrong way to exercise, so choose activities that you enjoy and can stay consistent with. Make sure you move every day, and don’t forget to challenge yourself at moderate and high intensities.
A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce mood fluctuations. Limiting your consumption of caffeine, food with added sugars, and alcohol can also make a major difference in regulating your mood (and improving your sleep).
Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
Effective stress management is crucial during menopause. Stress is inevitable, so it’s important to build the skills and regular practices that help you meet your daily challenges. Whether it’s a movement-based practice like yoga, or meditation and paced breathing, build a mindfulness habit that you can stick with.
Sleep is a pillar of physical and emotional health. The Midday app offers research-backed, highly effective, medication-free programs for both hot flashes and insomnia that can help you address these root causes of sleep challenges. Regardless of why you’re struggling with sleep, start by following healthy sleep hygiene practices.
Mental Health Care
Talking to a trained mental health provider can make a huge difference for many people in understanding their mood changes and building coping skills and practices. Appointments with a trained therapist or counselor allows you to explore their feelings and experiences, providing a safe and empathetic space to express your emotions.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one form of psychotherapy that can be highly effective in managing menopause-related mood swings. CBT helps you identify and modify negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies that enhance your emotional resilience.
Medications may also be part of your mental health care plan if you decide with a healthcare provider that they make sense for you. Many women find that psychiatric medication allows them to better weather this transitional period in their lives.
Support groups or relationships with others who are going through menopause can be a source of valuable emotional support. Community offers a sense of belonging, understanding, and camaraderie at any time in life—but especially during challenging periods like menopause.
Mood changes are a natural part of the menopause journey, but you have effective treatments and strategies to help you manage. Whether through holistic and lifestyle changes or medication, there is hope for a smoother transition through menopause.
We’re here for support and guidance to help you through this phase of your life. For more information and support around your menopause journey, including a range of options for menopause symptom relief, download Midday from the App Store or visit us at Midday.Health.
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