Written by Mercey Livingston
One of the most common symptoms women experience during menopause is mood changes like mood swings, irritability, anger, sadness, or stress. Not only can these be debilitating and affect all areas of your life, but they are also common in both perimenopause and menopause. Up to 23% of women experience mood changes during perimenopause and menopause, according to The North American Menopause Society.1 These mood changes are tied to the shift in hormones commonly experienced during this time.
If you've never experienced notable changes in your mood before, these newfound imbalances can feel very distressing. To get a better understanding of why they are happening and your options for treating mood swings during menopause or perimenopause, keep reading below to learn more.
Emotions and Hormones
Perimenopause and menopause are times of many hormonal changes and fluctuations -- and one of the main hormones that significantly shifts is estrogen. When estrogen declines, which begins in perimenopause and continues through menopause, some women start to experience mood swings and mood changes.2 Additionally, the drop in estrogen may also explain anxiety or depression symptoms3 since estrogen levels can affect serotonin and norepinephrine levels.
Anyone with a history of mental health issues, like anxiety or depression, should also talk to their doctor if their symptoms become bothersome, worse or difficult to manage compared to before menopause or perimenopause. In general, perimenopause can begin around 40-51 years of age and the average age of menopause is 51. Menopause is when some women might experience the onset of symptoms. But some women will experience symptoms before they enter menopause as well, in the perimenopause stage.
How Long Do the Mood Swings Last?
Everyone is different, so there's no one way to know how long someone might experience mood swings or any other symptoms of menopause. In general, menopause symptoms can last for an average of 7.4 years.4 But just because you can experience symptoms for several years, doesn't mean that you will forever or that the symptoms won't improve if you are experiencing them.
Menopause and Depression Risk
The changes in hormones experienced during menopause can also make women more susceptible to depression, according to some research.5 This research showed that risk is higher during menopause but reduced once the menopause phase ended. Notably, women with a history of depression are more likely to experience depression related to menopause. If you have experienced depression or anxiety in the past and are worried about experiencing it again in menopause, talk to your doctor to discuss proper treatment options for you during this time.
Treating Mood Swings
If you're experiencing perimenopausal or menopausal mood swings, the good news is that you have several options for treating them. Be sure to talk to your doctor to find out which treatments or combination of treatments might work best for you and your personal health history.
Many women choose to seek out natural remedies first before trying prescription treatments for perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms like mood swings. Two ingredients that may help with symptoms are royal jelly and Swedish flower pollen. Royal jelly is rich in good-for-you nutrients like vitamins and minerals and has shown to help women with mood swings and irritability. Swedish flower pollen has also been shown to help with emotional symptoms including mood swings, irritability, and uneasiness.*
Serenol™ uses ingredients like Swedish flower pollen to help relieve emotional PMS symptoms before and during perimenopause.* Learn more here.
When you don't feel like yourself, it can be easy to let your good nutrition habits fall to the wayside. But menopause is not the time to slack on good eating habits since diet can affect your symptoms, and can help improve or manage them. The Mediterranean Diet is one of the darlings of the health world -- and for good reason. Research shows6 it can help you manage mood symptoms, along with other common symptoms experienced during menopause. Bonafide® Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alyssa Dweck recommends the Mediterranean Diet for menopausal women since, "this plan is not only cardio-protective but may enhance immune function and optimize general health and well-being, as well as energy."
Exercise is important for many reasons during menopause, especially since you're more susceptible to losing muscle mass. Exercise helps you maintain and improve muscle mass and bone density -- not to mention that it's a huge mood booster7, among other benefits. Finding an exercise you enjoy is key since you're more likely to do it and stay consistent. Try mixing up your workouts to keep things interesting, and don't forget to incorporate strength training for building muscle.
Menopause can cause stress on its own, and when you're experiencing other life stressors, things can feel even more intense. Stress can interfere with hormones, causing changes or worsened symptoms, which is why it's important to manage stress as much as you can. Dr. Brooke Faught, a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner, recommends talking to a trusted friend or family member, seeking counseling or therapy, and trying to maintain healthy habits like sleeping well and taking care of yourself. Prioritize activities that you love and enjoy and don't forget to ask for help when you need it.
Finally, always speak to your doctor about your options for treating severe mood swings or other mood disorders like anxiety and depression. In addition to the lifestyle changes recommended above, your doctor may also recommend further testing or prescription interventions that can help you find relief.