Menopause Rage Is Real. Here’s How to Cope.
As you go through perimenopause, you may find yourself experiencing new and intense emotions. These emotions are mainly due to the hormonal changes taking place in your body. However, hormones aren’t the only reason for changes in your mood. Many women greet perimenopause with many complicated emotions around menstrual periods ending, trepidation about symptoms and body changes, and aging. What’s happening to your body physically is compounded by your feelings as you grapple with this new life stage.
The onset of mood changes can seem sudden and extreme and often take women by surprise. Quite a few women report that situations they used to take in stride with a calm, even demeanor now easily sets them off, and they are easily irritated by the littlest things. They also report that their ability to control their mood diminishes. The lack of control is perhaps more alarming to some women than the mood changes.
What exactly are the changes in mood women experience during perimenopause? The inventory of the 34 symptoms of menopause typically lists depression, anxiety, panic, and irritability. Mood swings are often used as the catch-all term, along with sadness, tearfulness, and the blues. The emotions many of the lists leave out are anger and rage. More and more, women are reporting experiencing this intense emotion they describe as rage.
What is perimenopausal rage?
We all experience feelings of anger from time to time and have coping mechanisms for controlling and dealing with anger. However, perimenopause-induced rage is different. Rage is generally described as excessive anger. You may go from feeling calm to feeling intense, difficult to control anger in just a matter of moments. You may notice that your patience has significantly decreased, and the most minor things set you off. You may feel resentment bordering on hostility toward your partner or children. You can experience feelings of rage for a week straight, but then be without it for a month before you feel this way again.
There are many reasons why you may be feeling rage. Here are a few:
You are not going crazy. This ebb and flow occurs because your estrogen levels are fluctuating and decreasing over time. Serotonin has also decreased, and your estrogen-serotonin balance is out of whack. Also, progesterone levels fall during perimenopause, and estrogen may become the dominant hormone, leading to irritability and depression. The imbalance of hormones can spark spontaneous, difficult-to-control episodes of rage.
Menopause symptoms and other factors can contribute to rage as well. You may not be sleeping well and are fatigued. You could be having bothersome hot flashes, which provoke feelings of anxiety and depression for some women. Maybe your sex drive has plummeted, creating tension in your relationship and demands from a partner you feel are unreasonable and insensitive. Perhaps you’re less than thrilled about the extra weight you put on. Anxiety may have ramped up as well.
The midpoint in life is often referred to as the “sandwich generation,” which leaves many women feeling pressured. You may be like many women and are simply tired of the multiple demands placed on you as a partner, mother, caregiver, friend, employee. You’re feeling done with a capital D yet struggling with how to change longstanding expectations and shift the burden of responsibility to others.
Midlife is a time of change. Your kids may be leaving home, and “empty nest” syndrome sets in. This transition may also force you to face that you and your partner have grown apart and raise the question about divorce. Fertility ending can be hard to accept. You may be struggling to accept that you’re aging.
For some women, some combination of these factors can create an emotional stew that bubbles over into rage.
Strategies To Tame Your Rage
Unlike anger, it’s hard to tame rage by sheer willpower or attempting to alter your behavior. So, give yourself grace and recognize the reasons why you’re feeling this way. Be open with loved ones and let them know what you’re going through. Begin to have honest conversations about what you need during this life stage to be happy and healthy.
In addition to starting conversations and shifting role expectations, there are several things you can do to help keep your hormones balanced and manage your emotions.
Mental health and diet are more closely intertwined than you may think. Poor nutrition, sugar, and excessive alcohol consumption can cause depression and mood swings. You can better stabilize your mood with some simple changes. Increase your intake of omega-3 fats (found in olive oil, fish, and nuts). Omega-3s were found to reduce symptoms of menopause. Decrease sugar (especially added sugars) and trans fats. It’s also essential to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Dehydration can make you more susceptible to mood swings. Cutting out or cutting back on alcohol to 3-5 drinks per week can help too.
Exercise is critical when it comes to improving both physical and psychological states. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise can help with mood swings and anxiety. Exercise releases the feel-good hormones known as endorphins and boosts serotonin levels. Carve out a little time each day for a walk, yoga, or more strenuous activity.
- Mindfulness Meditation
Taking time to be in the moment, fully aware is an excellent way to keep the negative feelings at bay. Simply focusing on your breath, your surroundings, and becoming more in tune with your body, can reap huge benefits. A 2019 MayoClinic study found mindfulness reduces menopausal symptoms.
- Productive Outlets
You can work through difficult emotions with an activity that brings you peace and joy, such as painting, gardening, or journaling. This new life chapter can be an excellent time to discover something that quiets your mind and harbors creativity.
Remember, the negative emotions you may feel during perimenopause or menopause are not your fault. They are very common, and you will not feel this way forever. Forgive yourself. You are entitled to your emotions.
Seek out a therapist. Ideally, one that is experienced in working with women in menopause and midlife. Cognitive behavioral therapy – therapist and self-guided forms – has a great deal of evidence that it can help with a range of menopause symptoms, including depression and anxiety.
- Prescription Medications
Some women find that birth control and other prescription medications help them deal with the emotional symptoms of menopause. Talk to your healthcare clinician or find an expert in menopausal care to understand whether any of these therapies are right for you.
For more support in dealing with anxiety, download Midday from the App Store or visit us at Midday.Health. If you find yourself struggling to manage your day-to-day life, speak with your doctor immediately. Seeking help can put you back on the path to emotional wellbeing.
Sign up for more unique women’s health content