Mood swings in menopause are very real and very common. So if you’ve noticed you’re feeling worried, unsettled, angry, or emotional during this time — you are not alone. I find that menopause mental health is something we don’t talk about often enough, and that leaves many women suffering in silence.
Let’s talk about why we feel so uncomfortable discussing menopause mood swings, what causes them, and how to cope with them so you can get back to feeling like yourself again, pronto.
I’ll go into more detail below, but my top recommendations for kicking those mood swings in menopause out of your life include exercise, stabilizing your blood sugar, and prioritizing your self-care.
Does Menopause Make You Moody?
Does menopause make you moody? Ask any woman age 40-60 and, if they’re honest, they’ll probably give you a resounding “yes!”
So many patients have come to me complaining that menopause moodiness, anxiety, and anger are some of their most intense symptoms.
Others complain that they want to get a divorce, quit their job, or just run away for a couple of weeks a month. The other half of the time, they feel fine — cheerful, even. It’s like riding a rollercoaster you’re trapped on, month after month after month.
If this resonates with you, I’ve got some fantastic news. Menopause doesn’t have to feel this way. Keep reading for my recommendations for natural menopause mood support.
Menopause Mental Health Taboos
While we’ve come a long way as far as accepting mental health and mood swings as real symptoms of menopause that are worthy of attention and treatment — we still have a long way to go.
For one thing, women our age were taught to suffer in silence and not complain. We grew up hearing that a lot of mood changes and mental health struggles were not real. It was often assumed that women who complained about mental health conditions were just selfish or dramatic.
In many ways, women who advocate for their own health have traditionally been branded as difficult. Since ancient times, women have been battling the stigma that hormone imbalances make them “crazy.”
In fact, the term ‘hysterical’ stems from the ancient Greek word for womb. (1)
Even more modern research in the 90s attempted to cast doubt on whether women actually experience mood changes in menopause. (2)
More recent papers do acknowledge menopause and mood are interrelated. (3,4) But in many ways, women’s health concerns are still routinely dismissed.
It’s no wonder sometimes we feel uncomfortable speaking out about menopause symptoms, moods swings, and health in general.
Just remember you don’t need a study or research to justify your personal experience. And if your doctor dismisses you or suggests you “just need to have a glass of wine and relax” to treat your menopause symptoms — you need to find a new doctor.
What Do Moods Swings In Menopause And Perimenopause Feel Like?
Every woman is different. And how you experience mood swings may be vastly different from the way your sister, mother, or neighbor experiences mood swings in menopause. So it’s important to remember that everyone’s feelings are valid — even if they differ from yours.
Here’s what I’ve often heard from patients over the years:
- I can’t relax
- I get tired easily
- I just don’t feel like myself
- I get angry and frustrated at the smallest things
- I feel unsettled and I’m not sure why
- I’m constantly worried
- I have dark thoughts
- I feel agitated
- Things that used to bring me joy don’t anymore
- I have no motivation for life
- My husband’s breathing/chewing/existing drives me insane
- One minute I’m sobbing, the next I’m laughing
- My wife seems like she’s angry and looking for a fight
- I don’t feel passionate or excited about anything
Maybe some of these scenarios resonate with you? If so, you might be suffering from menopausal mood swings.
What Causes Menopause Emotional Symptoms?
At the heart of these menopause mood changes lies changes to your sex hormone levels. For your whole life, up until this point, you’ve had a bountiful supply of progesterone and estrogen circulating throughout your body and your brain.
These hormones have a direct impact on your entire body and they’re integrated into so many bodily functions. Estrogen is thought to be neuroprotective. And estrogen and serotonin (the neurotransmitter associated with happiness) are particularly intertwined. (5)
Progesterone is also crucial for mood regulation. When your body metabolizes progesterone and pregnenolone, you get the neurosteroid allopregnanolone — which in turn stimulates gabba aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. Basically, GABA receptor stimulation is what makes you feel calm, cool, and relaxed. (6)
So when these special, brain-loving hormones disappear…you’re left without crucial tools you’ve unknowingly relied on for decades to help regulate your mood.
Cue the perimenopause and menopause mood swings, emotional outbursts, and intense feelings of worry.
Does Menopause Cause Anxiety And Depression?
It’s important to mention that some women experience more than just “mood changes” in menopause.
For the reasons I outlined above — when your hormone levels dip, it can trigger full-on depression and anxiety, even if you’ve never been prone to bouts of either in the past. (7)
How does depression or anxiety differ from a mood swing? Well, people with depression and anxiety can also have mood swings. For many people, depression and anxiety disorders don’t always produce a constant, steady low mood. Women with mental health issues may feel worse during some parts of the day and better during others — a similar feeling to a mood swing.
This is why it’s important to advocate for yourself and work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that’s right for you. Mental health in menopause is something that needs to be taken seriously.
If you’ve reached this article because you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, call SAMSHA’s hotline at 800-662-4357. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental health crises and/or substance use disorders. You can also visit their website here.
What Helps With Menopause Mood Swings?
There are many things you can do to support your body and your mood in menopause.
What helps mood swings during menopause?
Loving yourself enough to stand up for what you need. And not being afraid to put yourself first.
That’s the first step.
After that, here are the top 4 things I recommend for keeping your mood more even and reclaiming your life from menopausal mayhem.
Exercise For Mood Control
Did you know exercise is one of the most powerful things you can do for your body and mind?
Studies indicate approximately 50% of people’s depression symptoms respond favorably to exercise. (8)
Of course, that also means 50% of people’s depression symptoms may not respond favorably to exercise, so that’s not to say exercise is a magical solution for all who suffer from mood disorders. But, exercise is one of the most important tools you have at your disposal for improving your life and your health.
Looking for an easy way to start an exercise routine? Be sure to check out this blog post.
Of course — always check in with your doctor before starting any sort of exercise regimen!
Stabilize Your Blood Sugar And Your Mood
Another thing that can potentially affect your mood is your blood sugar. In fact, people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to also have depression. (9) And research suggests that the more your blood sugar levels fluctuate, the more prone your mood is to fluctuate as well. (10,11)
What can help support your blood sugar? Again, exercise is a great idea here. And so is incorporating tons of vegetables into your diet and cutting out processed carbs.
Make sure you’re also getting in plenty of healthy fats. Your body needs healthy fats and cholesterol to make hormones, especially pregnenolone and progesterone by way of the adrenal glands. Giving your body what it needs to make more hormones is a key way to help manage menopause symptoms.
I call this way of eating Keto-Green® and I’ve used this method for years to help thousands of women across the globe reclaim their lives from the crushing weight of menopause symptoms.
Keep Your Adrenals Happy
Your adrenal glands are some of the most important things you should nourish from the moment you turn 35.
Your adrenals can serve as a kind of back-up generator for your sex hormones when your ovaries are no longer as strong and powerful as they once were.
How do you keep them happy?
- Try to decrease stress in your life
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat plenty of vitamins B + C (your adrenals need them do their job properly)
- Regular gentle exercise, especially in the morning
- Get plenty of sunshine for that vitamin D
- Give them extra love with adaptogens like maca
Seriously, giving your adrenals the attention they need is one of the most effective ways to keep menopause from ruining your mood and destroying your relationships.
Prioritize Self-Care And Joy
I know it can be difficult to put aside a lifetime of attending to everyone else’s needs and put yourself and your self-care first.
But this is such an important step that I don’t want you to miss.
And it’s not just about the tangible action of giving yourself attention.
You see, when you experience joy and do things that make you feel good, your body responds by producing feel-good chemicals like oxytocin. Oxytocin helps to counteract the effect of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body and it makes you feel good. So there’s a bonafide, scientific reason for focusing on self-care and things that bring you joy.
Bottom Line: Mood Swings In Menopause
Girlfriend, while menopause can make you emotional and cause your mood to fluctuate worse than the stock market, you do not have to just hop on the rollercoaster and go for a ride for the next few years.
I hope this article has given you a few tools to help manage your mood swings in menopause!