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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.
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