Women officially enter menopause after going 12 months without getting their period. During the years leading up to menopause many women experience a lot of changes within their menstrual flow. These changes are caused by the shifting progesterone and estrogen levels within the body as it prepares for menopause. These changes can cause hot flashes or PMS, premenstrual syndromes. However, these are not the only emotional changes that it could cause.
Emotional Changes Caused by Menopause
Many women find themselves feeling “off” emotionally around the time of menopause. Some of the emotional changes that women have experienced from perimenopause or menopause have included:
- Feelings of sadness
- Lack of motivation
- Mood changes
- Difficulty concentrating
Why it Happens
Women who are in their mid to late 30’s begin to have their estrogen and progesterone slowly decrease. As the ovaries produce less of these hormones, the female body and brain can go through many changes. Mood is one of these. The hormone estrogen helps to regulate other hormones within the body, which could result in mood boosting properties. Properties such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin begin to decrease due to the lack of estrogen within the body.
Many women claim that as their estrogen decreases they become more forgetful, which could result in stress or frustration. They find that concentration may be harder than it once was.
These shifts in mood can also affect the body. As you get closer to menopause, you may notice an increase in difficulty when it comes to sleeping or having issues with sex.
Natural Ways to Combat Emotional Changes
Irritability and sadness are among the most common emotional changes during this time. You may be able to diminish or reduce mood swings by making a few lifestyle changes. Some of the recommended changes are:
- Change your diet. Eating healthy foods can help lift up your mood and your body. Keeping a varied diet of healthy foods, such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help to improve your mood.
- Find a new calming skill. Look for a new skill to practice to help calm you in times of unease. Try something like yoga, meditation, or rhythmic breathing. These practices will help you to relax and find a sense of peace.
- Stay connected. It is important to stay connected to your family and community during this time. When we struggle with our emotions, many of us seek isolation. However, staying involved and nurturing your friendships will help to keep your mood up.
- Exercise More. Performing at least 50 minutes of aerobic training four times a week helps to alleviate mood swings and irritability during menopause. Exercise works to release endorphins and other feel-good chemicals into the brain. Staying active will also help to give you something to look forward to throughout your week.
- Get a good night’s rest. It is important to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you do not get enough sleep this could actually make irritability worse. Try avoiding caffeine in the hours before bed and shutting off your electronic devices an hour before going to sleep. This will help to relax your brain and body for a better night’s sleep.
If natural lifestyle changes do not help to regulate your emotional changes you may wish to seek out different options.
- Antidepressants. If you find yourself suffering from depression or symptoms like it, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking medicine such as antidepressants.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This may be a good option for some women to help alleviate mood swings from menopause, along with other symptoms they may be suffering from. HRT is available in several forms such as pills, creams, and vaginal patches.
- Acupuncture has been known to help balance hormonal levels and balance the energy flow within the body. This could help increase the production of “feel good” properties such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
Making proactive lifestyle changes will often help to diminish mood swings and irritability. It is important to talk to your doctor or a medical professional before seeking the alternative methods mentioned above. If you find that your mood swings are extreme, causing added anxiety, or making it difficult to participate in life then it is vital to seek help from a medical professional.