Throughout life, most, if not all of us have had our own experiences with mood swings, irritability or feeling like our hormones have taken over the driver’s seat. While hormonal fluctuations and bouts of irritability and mood swings are commonly experienced during the years leading up to menopause, in the form of PMS, these same symptoms can spill over into menopause and unfortunately, they can get worse.
If you’re dealing with mood swings during menopause, meaning you're feeling more angry, irritable or sadder than normal, or you just don't feel like yourself, volatile hormonal fluctuations may be to blame. In this episode of “Ask Our Experts,” Bonafide Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alyssa Dweck discusses what could be causing these “Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde" emotions, and provides a few tips on how to address them.
Hi, Dr. Dweck here, OBGYN in New York and Chief Medical Officer to Bonafide. Do you know what I see in my office? Time and time again, women actually a bit frightened that they don't recognize their personalities because their mood swings during menopause are so volatile.
Day to day, they suffer from anger, menopause irritability, a lack of patience, maybe sadness, and just not feeling 100% themselves. They often describe it as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde” type of situation.
What Causes Mood Swings During Menopause?
So, what’s going on here and how can we help to get these emotions back into better balance? It’s very clear that your hormone levels, specifically estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are in volatile fluctuation during the menopausal years. And believe it or not, there are receptors in the brain for all three of these hormones. This means it’s only natural that mood changes may occur when these hormone changes are happening and affecting the brain.
In addition, multiple neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and GABA might be influenced as well, during menopausal hormone changes. And this can alter moods causing menopause irritability and mood swings.
Can You Stop Menopause Mood Swings?
So how can we help to maintain a more stable emotional disposition and better cope with menopause mood swings?
First, treat any physical symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats. If prescription hormones are not appropriate for you or you’d rather not use them, and antidepressants are not in the cards, you might want to turn to an over-the-counter supplement such as Relizen®, which contains a proprietary blend of Swedish flower pollen shown to help reduce the frequency and intensity of menopausal hot flashes and night sweats. This will also help you to get a better night's sleep so that memory, cognition and mood might be improved in the morning. If you're still perimenopausal and menstruating regularly, but experiencing these emotional rollercoaster symptoms, you could consider using birth control pills. Some over the counter options are also available that are geared toward alleviating menopause irritability or mood swings. A second supplement put out by Bonafide, called SerenolTM, contains a similar ingredient to Relizen®, help keep your vasomotor symptoms at bay, but it has also been clinically shown to help reduce moodiness and irritability caused by hormonal fluctuations.*
Getting a good night’s sleep and upping your sleep hygiene game is very important to achieving more stable emotions during the day. After all, if you're cranky and tired from poor quality sleep, your emotions and mood are going to be influenced.
As usual, I recommend modifying diet, exercising and engaging in stress reduction techniques to help you better cope with menopause mood swings. Finally, take some time for yourself each day to just try to appreciate what's good, and that may help to create a stable mood day to day.
Of course, as with all other issues and symptoms, if you feel that your menopause mood swings are interfering with your day-to-day life or relationships, it might be beneficial to bring it up to your health care provider or therapist for further assistance.