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How Do I Manage Mood Swings During Menopause

Guest Writer Karen Lombardo

Menopause can directly impact a woman’s mood, mental health, and well-being. We know of a client who once put a sign on her front door as a caution to her husband.  The note said, “Be wary. The woman inside may look like your wife, but she really isn’t.” The warning came months after the effects of a hysterectomy and instant thrust into menopause, which altered her persona and mood. 

Moodiness and anxiety can be a sign of declining and changing hormones during the peri through post menopausal stages yet many of us attribute this to being busy with work, family and any number of multi-tasking activities we embark on. However, sudden, consistent and persistent moodiness is where hormones cross the line into our world of the moody blues. 

When Do Women Go Through Menopause?

Just as different as we begin our journey upon the onset of our first period, the onset of menopause can vary widely and typically is  anywhere from the early 40s to mid-50s, averaging at age 51. Menopause is defined by the medical profession as the time in a woman’s life when she has gone 12 months without a period. 

Signs of menopause begin during perimenopause when a women’s periods become inconsistent and mental and emotional challenges are occurring with more frequency.

What Are the Emotional Effects of Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the period before menopause when monthly menstruation begins to slow or stop. During perimenopause, women can skip periods or experience lighter periods.  The irregularity can impact mood and emotions as the hormone levels change. 

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, UPMC, talks about women’s behavioral health in an article stating, 

Hormonal changes during perimenopause can affect your mood and cause various physical symptoms. Concerns about aging can also develop or become worse during perimenopause. As a result of these symptoms and changes, some women develop feelings of depression and anxiety that are so severe that they don’t go away, requiring a pursuit of mental and/or physical treatments.

Perimenopause-related mental health issues that may require treatment include:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Marital or relationship stress
  • Perceived cognitive decline

    Healthline.com talks about recognizing the signs of perimenopause mood swing rage.

    Perimenopause-induced rage may feel significantly different than your typical anger or frustration. You may go from feeling stable to feeling intensely resentful or irritated in a matter of moments. Your family members or friends may also notice that you have less patience than you usually do.

    Some healthcare providers suggest that having strong premenstrual symptoms throughout your life may mean you’re more likely to experience drastic perimenopause mood swings. If you’re experiencing symptoms like these, please see your healthcare provider. They can confirm your diagnosis and develop a treatment plan to help ease your symptoms.

    Many women dismiss these ‘change of life feelings’ as nothing more than age and change in family dynamics.  Feelings and emotions from an empty nest and associated marital changes are often ignored or dismissed.  These emotions and mood swings can be attributed to a decline in hormone levels. 

    Is it Moodiness or Menopause?

    Moodiness can also occur when hormones such as estrogen and progesterone levels decline. These hormonal changes lead to perimenopause and ultimately menopause. What many women don’t know because their doctors don’t educate them of this and are rarely trained in this is that hormones are directly related to body, mind, and emotional changes. Healthline addresses menopause mood swings as typical among women yet varied in experience and severity.

    Estrogen helps to regulate several hormones, which may have mood-boosting properties. These include:

  • serotonin
  • norepinephrine
  • dopamine

  • Estrogen also helps to support certain types of brain functioning, such as cognition. When estrogen levels change, your mood may change with it. The decrease in estrogen can also cause some women to have occasional episodes of forgetfulness, or “fuzzy-brain,” which may lead to frustration, negatively affecting mood.

    Menopause and perimenopause can create physical challenges that may negatively affect mood. These include trouble sleeping and issues with sex. Many women also experience anxiety about aging and stress about the future, which can cause upset and mood swings.

    Not all women experience moodiness. Family and work-life experience combined with health and family history can impact menopausal moodiness. 

    What Are the Psychological Symptoms of Menopause?

    As mentioned, the psychological symptoms of menopause start during perimenopause. Irregular periods, changes in sleep patterns, primarily due to night sweats, and a decrease in desire and sexual activity can have a profound psychological effect.

    Physiological and psychological symptoms tend to go hand-in-hand. As the body changes, the mind responds.

    • Fluctuations in physical appearance such as weight gain, alterations in breast size, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido can cause anxiety, depression, and sadness.
    • Lack of sleep and hormonal shifts due to irregular periods impact sleep (night sweats) and daytime activity (hot flashes), culminating in frustration, sadness, and often embarrassment at the outward signs of redness in the face and perspiration. 
    • Anxiety and depression are the most common psychological symptoms.  Middle age is already a time of change and mental stress. Combining these symptoms with the physical, hormonal, and psychological changes can significantly impact a woman's mental health.

    Is There Treatment for Menopause Mood Swings?

    One OB/GYN told us, “If it were that simple, there would not be menopause mood swings!” Touché, but there are ways to mitigate and ‘treat’ menopause mood swings. Natural remedies carry side effects and warnings, so consult with a professional dispensary and your health practitioner to ensure safe use of any non-prescription products. 

    Essential Oils.  Many women choose natural remedies such as essential oils over prescription hormonal treatments and some of the below may help support menopausal related symptoms and mood swings. 

    Essential OIls

      • Clary Sage may help with hot flashes and is thought to slow the development of osteoporosis.
      • Peppermint Oil may also impacts the effects of hot flashes and is known as a natural remedy to help reduce cramping associated with your period.
      • Lavender, when placing approximately 10 drops into a warm bath, may help balance your hormones and soothe perineal discomfort. It is widely used to inspire feelings of relaxation and improve sleep quality. 
      • Aromatherapy Approaches:
        • One to two drops of Geranium may be inhaled from a napkin for immediate stress relief. Geranium, when rubbed into skin, is also helpful for dry skin.
        • Basil aromatherapy is known to improve mood and can be helpful with hot flashes. 
  • Citrus oil aromatherapy has been attributed to decreasing systolic blood pressure and improving pulse rate. Citrus also boasts anti-inflammatory benefits. 

    Clary Sage and Essential Oils | Caire Beauty | How do I manage mood swings during menopause

    Herbal Remedies. Ingesting a variety of herbs can also be used to help treat hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and fatigue.  Herbs have been used for centuries to treat physical and mental illnesses and ailments.  There are reams of research, articles, and treatments involving herbal remedies yet it’s always best to consult with a nutritionist or medical advisor to guide you through what single or combination of herbal remedies might be best for you.  We list a few below of the most popular herbal remedies. 

    Black cohoshAARP states,“While it may not be as effective as hormone replacement therapy [for hot flashes], black cohosh provides relief with considerably less side effects,” says Megan Boucher, a naturopathic doctor in Georgetown, Ontario.

    The herb is also used for mood management and sleep disturbances. Not only does it help women fall asleep, but also stay asleep,” Boucher says, citing two recent studies that back up its use as a sleep aid.

    St. John's Wort is frequently used to treat mild depression. WebMD statesSt. John’s Wort might also have a special benefit for women during menopause. There's some evidence -- particularly when combined with black cohosh -- that St. John's wort can improve mood and smooth the mood swings tied to menopause.

    Red Clover.Historically, red clover was used for asthma, whooping cough, cancer, and gout. Today, extracts from red clover are most often promoted for menopause symptoms, high cholesterol levels, or osteoporosis.” (NCCIH)

    As with essential oils, please consult with a trained herbalist and your health practitioner to ensure the safe use of any non-prescription products. 

    We Understand Menopause and Yes, We Have Had Our Own Moodiness Called Out!

    Caire Beauty understands the naturally occuring effects of menopause on a woman’s body. We created hormone defying skincare that works for women who are aging versus being skincare for everyone! And of course, if you have questions or ideas because we understand that we’re a new and different approach for the health of your aging skin, please write us. We’re starting a skincare movement, and every individual conversation matters to us deeply.

    Embrace menopause and the life you live. There is no reason not to look fabulous as you do so.

    Resources: Mayoclinic.comHealthline Menopause Mood SwingsHealthline essential oils

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