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Mood swings during menopause are a challenging occurrence and there are a variety of ways to handle them. Some women have described these swings as similar to having PMS all of the time, instead of just a few days a month. Swings may be expressed in several forms including ease at which strong emotions are suddenly felt, greater emotionality at all times, and sudden emotional shifts. The different approaches to tolerating these swings are not mutually exclusive, and they include medical or drug therapy, psychotherapy, support groups, self-help materials, and stress-reducing activities or exercise programs.
Until recently, the standard medical recommendation for women experiencing moderate to severe mood swings during menopause was hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Supplementing with hormones when hormone levels are falling could regulate mood and make most menopausal symptoms recede. Unfortunately, HRT elevates risk of reproductive and breast cancers in women, making this a less attractive option for many, and contraindicated in those with greater cancer risk factors. Some doctors have proposed using smaller amounts of hormones, and for some women HRT remains a good option, despite the risks.
A medical alternative that is as effective is using antidepressants or mood stabilizers. In some cases, mood swings during menopause are so pronounced that they threaten a woman’s ability to function in daily life. Since menopause and depression are linked in many ways, the recommendation to treat mood swings with antidepressants is medically sound and often resolves the problem.
Along with drug therapy, many women find they benefit from psychotherapy. While mood swings during menopause are partially explained by declining hormones, this is a significant time of life for most women that may leave them questioning identity or existence. Therapy can help answer these questions, and certain forms of it, like behavioral therapies, may also provide women with real tools to deal with each mood swing as it comes. These may help make enduring mood swings during menopause much easier.
Another route is to join a menopause support group, either one locally or online. Sharing support with others who can definitely understand present challenges can reduce stress and feelings of isolation. Being able to talk to people who are actually facing this difficulty, instead, is often thought beneficial, due to the validation it provides.
Support is also available in many books on menopause. All women during menopause should also consider exercise of the cardiovascular and/or contemplative kind. Cardiovascular exercise, even if it is just walking, elevates and smoothes mood by producing serotonin. Many women find they handle mood swings during menopause better with meditative exercise like yoga or tai chi chuan. Some of the simplest movements or breathing exercises can be used during swings to regain focus. Other forms of help include any activities that reduce stress and represent self-care during this time of transition.
@Grivusangel -- I think sometimes, the consequences of a woman's behavior have to be defined for her, in order to make some people get help. My sister was like that. We pretty much had to tell her we would no longer associate with her until she got some help for her moods. Her doctor put her on a low dose of estrogen, some kind of mood stabilizer and insisted she have some therapy. It all helped.
I've already told my doctor I don't have a problem with HRT, and I'll be glad to use it. I have a great marriage and I don't want menopausal mood swings to mess it up. I'm just glad I don't have kids.
My mom had horrid mood swings. My dad, my sister and I were always walking on eggshells. She had a lot going on in her life besides menopause, which didn't help, either.
Finally, my dad just sat my mom down when she was having a neutral mood day and told her it was not fair to the rest of her family for her to treat us like she did, just because she was having a bad day. He said she was going to have to find something to help her moods because she was getting impossible to live with. He told her he could handle it, but it wasn't fair for her 10-year-old daughter (she was 40 when
I was born) to have to live with her verbal abuse, and he was going to send me to live with my aunt if Mama didn't do something.
She got on estrogen patches and it was like flipping a switch. It wasn't perfect, but it was a vast improvement.