Restlessness and Irritability

Feeling restless, irritable and being quick to anger are common complaints during menopause. Your irritability can seem irrational and the cause is often difficult to understand.

Why are you irritable?

Your hormonal balance is changing and this causes you to become irritated more quickly. Just knowing there is a physical, hormonal cause can help you recognize the issue and may help you deal with feelings of restlessness and irritation.

Tips for staying in control of restlessness and irritability

Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can affect your mood and your ability to respond calmly and rationally to the demands of daily life. Feeling irritable during menopause and being quick to anger are very common. Don’t worry. There are plenty of things you can do to positively affect your mood and ease restlessness and irritability.

  • Exercise will boost your energy and lift your mood. Research shows that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins which reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in your body.1,2
  • Avoid refined or highly processed fats and sugars which are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream, creating a spike in your blood sugar levels and then causing them to crash quickly. When your blood-sugar level decreases dramatically, your mood may dive too.
  • Research shows that consuming caffeine late in the day disrupts sleep. According to the U.S. National Sleep Foundation, caffeine blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increases adrenaline production. Disrupted sleep is not helpful your energy and mood.
  • Foods rich in magnesium contribute to a calm, restful mood and extra energy.3 Magnesium can be found in nuts, green leafy vegetables, legumes, avocados, bananas, tempeh and oily fish.
  • The decrease in estrogen during menopause can affect your concentration and your memory,4 so doing one thing at a time is a better than multi-tasking. Being mindful while you complete a task is rewarding and will lift your mood and make you feel more in control.

References

1. Viña, J., Sanchis-Gomar, F., Martinez-Bello, V. & Gomez-Cabrera, M. C. Exercise acts as a drug; The pharmacological benefits of exercise. Br. J. Pharmacol. 167, 1–12 (2012).
2. Exercise menopausal_et_al-2006-International_Journal_of_Nursing_Practice.
3. Sartori, S. B., Whittle, N., Hetzenauer, A. & Singewald, N. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology 62, 304–312 (2012).
4. Greendale, G. A. et al. Effects of the menopause transition and hormone use on cognitive performance in midlife women. at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690984/pdf/6598.pdf

Want to learn how to cope with other symptoms? Get expert advice for the most prevalent menopausal symptoms.