Not only can menopause prompt uncomfortable physical symptoms, it can also turn a woman’s emotions into an out-of-control pendulum, by afflicting her with mood swings. Menopause is a time of significant hormonal changes, and these changes, typically occurring in women between the ages of 45 and 55, can affect emotional stability just as much as the body’s equilibrium. More than 50% of women experience mood swings as they approach menopause. Fortunately, there are ways to best manage mood swings during this transitional time.
Mood swings during menopause
Mood swings are defined as extreme or abrupt fluctuations in mood. During mood swings, people often experience drastic shifts in their emotional state. The term “mood swing” is often used to describe an emotional reaction that is inappropriate to its cause or trigger.
During menopause, women commonly experience mood swings because their hormones, which regulate mood and emotions, are thrown off balance. Though this is a common and normal symptom of menopause, it can nonetheless be very troubling.
It is often helpful for women going through mood swings to understand the symptoms of this condition. Keep reading to learn more about how mood swings can manifest during menopause.
Symptoms of mood swings
Because each woman has her own unique way of managing her emotions, stress, and her environment, all women experience the symptoms of mood swings differently. However, many symptoms of mood swings are common among women going through menopause.
Common symptoms of mood swings
- Frequent mood changes
- Unexplainable emotions
- Lack of motivation
- Extreme moods
- Decreased patience
- Increased stress
Being aware of these symptoms can help a woman develop a well-rounded perspective of mood swings. Now, with a clear understanding of what mood swings are, it’s time to learn about the underlying causes of them to become better equipped to deal with and treat mood swings.
What causes mood swings during menopause?
Mood swings during menopause are caused largely by the hormonal transitions women go through during this time. Hormones, such as estrogen, influence the production of serotonin, which is a mood regulating neurotransmitter.
However, there are other causes of mood swings. Other menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, physical changes, and fatigue can cause or intensify mood swings, but these symptoms are generally caused by hormonal imbalance as well.
Hormonal causes of mood swings
Medical researchers have found that estrogen plays a major role in the brain’s production of serotonin, also known as the mood regulating neurotransmitter.
Because perimenopausal hormone imbalances temporarily disturb serotonin production in the brain, there is an increased chance of mood swings, depression, and other psychological disturbances during menopause.
While hormonal imbalance is thought to be a major underlying cause of mood swings during menopause, experts also point out that mood disturbances may be caused by other menopausal symptoms.
Estrogen’s effects on serotonin
- Increases serotonin receptor sensitivity
- Increases serotonin receptor levels
- Increases serotonin production.
Other menopausal causes of mood swings
Doctors believe that mood swings are often the result of other menopausal symptoms. Women in their 40s and 50s, often stretched already by work and home stresses, suffer from fatigue, sleep problems, hot flashes, and other symptoms that can directly contribute to problems with mood and emotion.
Menopausal causes of mood swings
- Night sweats
- Physical changes
Extreme cases of mood swings
While mood swings are normal during menopause, emotional and mood related symptoms sometimes indicate a more serious condition. Mood swings that are extreme, last for an extended duration, or put a woman or others at risk of harm warrant professional help. To learn more about when to seek help for mood swings, read on for the symptoms of bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety.
1. Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder, also called manic- depressive disorder, is a group of mood disorders, characterized by the presence of one or more episodes of mania, or abnormally elevated mood, and alternating episodes of depression, or prolonged low moods.
Depression, termed major-depressive disorder, is another condition more serious than mood swings for which professional help is often necessary. While many people experience the symptoms of depression at different times in their lives, clinical depression is more than a temporary state or a symptom of menopause.
Anxiety is another condition more serious than menopause-induced mood swings. Anxiety disorders affect up to 18% of adults in the US, making this the most common type of mental illness. Clinical anxiety is a group of disorders and phobias.
Fortunately, excellent help is available for women who experience psychological conditions that are more serious than mood swings. Most women who go through menopause will not develop such symptoms. If concerned about mood swings or other symptoms during menopause, it is best to speak with a qualified health professional.