What To Do When Menopause Mood Changes Are In Full Swing
Women experience a range of symptoms during menopause and changes to mood are no exception. With this marked decline of estrogen, some women experience irritability, anxiety, stress, and even downright depression. Our own menopause assessment showed that 67% of women reported that they experience mood changes with menopause.◊ These are serious symptoms that deserve our attention if we’re going to continue giving our body the support it needs during this transition.
What causes menopause mood swings
Many women experience some degree of mood change during menopause. Estrogen levels fluctuate from one minute to the next, which can lead to emotional distress, mood swings, and even disrupt serotonin production.1, 2 This phase of life can bring with it a range of new stressful life situations to consider. Many women are caring for children while also helping aging parents and navigating major life changes or age-related health conditions. This combination can create a perfect storm of sorts for many women going through menopause, which can ultimately lead to mood changes.
While it’s perfectly normal to experience mood changes for any number of reasons, few studies show that menopause contributes directly to depression.1 If you’re experiencing depressive symptoms, please reach out to your healthcare practitioner for guidance.
Can menopause cause anxiety?
Anxiety can strike at any age, but fluctuating hormones during menopause certainly don’t help the matter. Panic attacks can feel oddly similar to hot flashes or night sweats. They both cause your heart to race, your body to sweat, and shortness of breath.3 The connection between estrogen and anxiety, however, is still relatively unclear. If you’re experiencing severe anxiety or panic attacks, talk to your healthcare practitioner.
What do to about menopause mood swings, night sweats, anxiety, and more
We may not fully understand estrogen’s role in mood changes, but we can start taking small steps now to better manage our symptoms during this already stressful transition.
- Listen to your body. Your body is going through a big change. Your hormones are rising and falling throughout the day. If you need to rest more than usual or cut back on your workload, that’s okay. Listen to your body—it’s sending you signals about what it needs, and it’s never been more important to pay attention to those signals than right now.
- Trust that this is temporary. Most of the mood changes that begin during menopause don’t last. Even if you’ve had to reach out for treatment during this time, you probably won’t need that treatment forever. Studies show these hormone-related risks ease with time, the further away from menopause you get.3
- Remember you’re not alone. There are many women out there struggling to maintain emotional balance when their hormones are out of whack, and even when they’re not.3 Reach out to the people you trust and share your experiences or ask them to share their own. It can help to hear how other women are dealing with this change.
- Sleep in and sleep long. It’s pretty simple, losing sleep can make your mood worse. Seek out ways to get in the hours you need. Try swapping your curtains for light-blocking ones, investing in a comfortable sleep mask, or brewing up some sleepy time tea to help you drift off. Little changes to your nightly routine can go a long way.
- Delight in your healthy diet. A well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy Omega-3 fats is one way to start addressing your physical and mental well-being. Certain key nutrients are even linked directly to mood such as vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3s (EPA and DHA), and many of the B vitamins. In general, better overall nutrition contributes greatly to better overall health.
- Enjoy treats in moderation. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods can exacerbate menopause symptoms. This includes mood swings, sleep disturbances, and hot flashes. Cutting back on your intake can help reduce their effects.
Settling into your new mood
Estrogen is a powerful hormone whose absence will be missed by your body. It’s normal to feel different. It’s okay to feel like everything is changing. Embrace what this change means for you and continue looking forward to all this new phase of life has to offer.
◊Equelle.com online survey of US women (n= 9,150) from Sept 2019 – April 2020
- The North American Menopause Society. “Depression, Mood Swings, Anxiety.” 2020. Accessed on: April 16, 2020. <https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/depression-mood-swings-anxiety>
- Hormone Health Network. “Menopause Mood Swings.” 2018. The Endocrine Society. Accessed on: April 16, 2020. <https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/menopause/menopause-mood-swings>
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Menopause and mental health.” 2020. Harvard Medical School. Accessed on: April 16, 2020. <https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/menopause-and-mental-health>