If you’re like most women, you learned to manage mood swings associated with hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle. But the hormonal changes during perimenopause and menopause can create an entirely new set of emotional symptoms, which catches many women by surprise. You’ll be happy to know that there are a number of ways to improve your mood and many of the other symptoms of menopause.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. Menopause is usually defined as one year plus 1 day of having no menstrual cycle. Menopause does not happen overnight, though. Hormone production within your ovaries slows down in fits and spurts, which causes hormone levels in your body to fluctuate, sometimes wildly. Doctors refer to this as perimenopause. From start to finish, the entire process of perimenopause can take anywhere from 2 to 10 years to reach full menopause.
Most women go through menopause without developing a significant mood disorder, but almost all women notice some degree of moodiness. These mood changes are a very common symptom of fluctuating hormone levels.
Mood changes may also be a natural part of marking the end of your childbearing years. This can be bittersweet for some women and extremely painful for others. Body changes can prompt concerns about attractiveness and even lead to a distorted body image. As they approach menopause, many women feel emotional as they reflect upon their place and purpose in life. A few women celebrate menopause because it frees them from worries of pregnancy and inconveniences of menstrual periods. Such large changes in your life can cause mood shifts, even without the hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause.
The type of mood changes and their severity varies among women. For some women, the mood swings of menopause are like gently rolling hills. For other women, though, menopause is like a rollercoaster of emotions.
Mood Changes Associated with Menopause
Here are some of the more common mood changes associated with perimenopause and menopause:
Irritability: Up to 70 percent of women say that irritability is their biggest emotional problem during perimenopause. These women say they feel less tolerant and more easily annoyed as they go through.
Depression: Depression affects up to one in every five women going through menopause.
Anxiety: Menopause can bring about tension, worry, nervousness and even panic attacks. Many women who are prone to anxiety find that it worsens while going through menopause; others may develop anxiety for the first time.
Crying and weepiness: The tendency to cry or feel weepy may be more pronounced as you approach menopause. You might find yourself weeping about things that did not bother you before.
Insomnia: If you are like 40 to 50 percent of women in menopause, you experience insomnia. You might experience other symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, which interrupt your sleep. Loss of sleep can leave you feeling tired and foggy, which can cause irritation and moodiness.
While hormonal changes in your mood are natural and normal, the mood changes associated with menopause can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Fortunately, there are ways you can start feeling better today.
What You Can Do
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormones are responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause, including mood swings. Ovaries produce important hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. As you approach menopause, your ovaries slow production of these hormones. The slowdown is not sudden, though, so hormones levels may drop one month and surge the next, which can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces diminishing hormones to stabilize moods. Using specific hormones can address specific symptoms. Progesterone is the hormone of choice to treat hot flashes and night sweats, while testosterone treats loss of libido, loss of sexual desire and diminished orgasms. And once a woman is officially menopausal, she may be a candidate for estrogen.
The more you know about the effects hormonal changes can have on your moods during menopause, the sooner you can start feeling better. The best way to know what’s going on internally is to have an Age Management & Hormone Optimization Specialist evaluate you and test specific hormone levels so replacement dosages can be recommended that will alleviate your symptoms, ease this difficult transition and ensure your quality of life remain as high as possible as you enter this new phase of life.
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