During the years that lead up to menopause, also known as peri menopause, a womans menstrual cycle becomes erratic. Women often bleed a lot heavier or lighter than usual. However, you are not officially in the menopause until you have had 12 consecutive months without a period.
Cycles that are irregular are a sign of erratic ovulation which lead to highs and lows in estrogen and progesterone. Women often describe this as an emotional roller coaster.
Hormone production alters during menopause and women can become forgetful and begin to experience confusion or mood swings. Not all women go through the same symptoms although they are likely to experience some degree of discomfort. Many times, women have hot flashes and sweats at night, tearfulness, and weight gain, problems with their thyroid and a decline or an increase in libido.
During menopause you can be up one day and down the next. Some women find that their children become more irritating than usual or may break down for the slightest reason.
You may find films heart wrenching and colleagues at work may frustrate you. For some, the slightest thing may make them fly off the handle into a fit of rage. Even though you may fee you are out of control, these are the most common symptoms of menopause.
Women often feel lost due to mood swings. Their emotions are so out of control that they don’t know if they are sad or angry in certain situations. You may feel that your emotional states are abnormal so it will be comforting to know that over 15% of women feel the same emotions during menopause.
Often doctors do not acknowledge the extent of the emotion that a women is experiencing on a daily basis. The root cause of the mood swings need to be understood in order to deal with them effectively.
Although it is generally agreed that a womans fluctuating hormones are responsible, nobody is totally sure what causes these mood swings during menopause. Your body no longer produces eggs for fertilisation during menopause and as a result, your body ceases producing the hormones that trigger menstruation and ovulation. Your periods and ovulation will gradually become erratic, spiralling your hormones.
Due to the constantly fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone and androgens your mental state is inevitably going to become effected. Serotonin levels, the mood controlling chemical is controlled by these hormones. If the serotonin drops, your mood will also drop. Your mood will also rise when the serotonin levels are high.
Stress and emotions are often increased by other menopausal symptoms. Menopause usually occurs around the time in your life when big changes are occurring such as retirement or the children leaving home so it is no wonder that a woman’s hormones are intense.
There are a number of simple things that you can do to make yourself feel more in control. One thing you can try is when you feel an intense emotion, try to recognise that it is a mood swing. Knowing that you are not mentally ill will help you feel more in control of your body.
Diet and exercise are also important when trying to cope with mood swings. Aim to exercise for at least twenty minutes a day, three times a week. It will help you focus your energy and forget your emotions. Try to include complex carbohydrates such as peas, beans to raise your serotonin levels.
Speak with others when experiencing a mood swing and consult your doctor for advice on minimising mood swings. Joining a support group where problems can be discussed and shared is also very helpful.