Mood swings

Menopause can have a huge impact on how you feel. You may feel happy one moment and very angry the next. Mood swings are unpredictable and disruptive. Many women consider mood swings one of the most frustrating complaints during menopause.

What causes mood swings?

Mood swings occur because of fluctuations in your hormonal balance. Your body produces less estrogen and progesterone. This can cause a malfunction in the part of the brain that regulates your emotional reactions.

Lack of control over your emotions

So mood swings can often have a physical, hormonal cause. Because they are unpredictable, you may often feel out of control of your emotions. This is disruptive and can put significant stress on relationships at home and work.

The link with menopause is often missed

Often mood swings are attributed to stress. Be aware that if your menstrual cycle is changing and you are perimenopausal, mood swings could very likely be caused by the big hormonal changes going on in your body. Coping with the stress of modern daily life is important for all women and there are specific things you can do to help balance your mood. Recognizing that your mood is affected by your hormones is step one.

Tips to help with mood swings

  • 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 processed or refined sugars carbohydrates and fats that quickly raise your blood sugar levels and then cause them to crash. . As your blood sugar level drops, your mood can take a dive too. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal and whole grains, that slowly release energy which maintains steady blood sugar levels.
  • Foods rich in magnesium contribute to a calm, restful mood and extra energy. 3 Magnesium can be found in nuts, green leafy vegetables, peas and beans, 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 tips on how to cope with other complaints? Get expert advice for help with the most prevalent menopausal symptoms.