A woman enters menopause when she has had 12 months with no period (menstrual flow). The years that lead up to this occurrence make up a woman’s perimenopause season. During this season, many women begin to experience irregular periods and a host of other symptoms. If you are in perimenopause, your periods may be shorter or longer than it used to be. You may also notice that it gets lighter or heavier. A host of other symptoms, such as the perimenopause mood swings, also come alongside. This is one of the major symptoms that many women worry about in their perimenopause season. The changes during perimenopause are primarily results of shifting hormonal levels to prepare your body for menopause.
Two hormones help regulate a woman’s reproductive system. They are progesterone and estrogen. As these hormones fluctuate towards menopause, they will cause some changes in your body and may affect your mood too. Most women would enter menopause with no serious mood disorder. But then, you cannot rule out some form of emotional reactions. Menopause represents a season of change; mood changes inclusive. Asides the fluctuating hormones, you would also note certain changes in your body, which may cause concerns about body image and attractiveness. These, with all the contemplations of midlife, can also contribute to mood swings. Mood swings can be quite challenging. But they are integral parts of the whole process. As they say, life is indeed a rollercoaster and some situations like perimenopause will be bittersweet.
Basic Overview of Perimenopause Mood Swings
Menopause is like the height of a cliff. You will have to take many steps before you get there. Each of these steps has peculiar symptoms and characteristics. But the whole journey is what we call perimenopause.
During perimenopause, the levels of estrogen in your body would begin to drop. Because of this drop, some women begin to experience hot flashes, mood swings, and some other symptoms.
Perimenopause lasts for about two to ten years, depending on many factors. After that, menopause would take place and you would become postmenopausal. When that time comes, if you had perimenopause mood swings, you would notice the significant difference in your emotional symptoms.
Experts tell us that about one out of every four women will experience mood swings in their perimenopause stage. Some even experience mood swings for a while after menopause as it gradually fades away.
Now, some women may have had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the womb). So, they do not menstruate. The usual indication approaching menopause in these women is their mood swings. It is usually the first sign that they have started transitioning into menopause.
No one can overlook the emotional changes that occur during perimenopause because they are typically significant. And for some women, these changes can be so disturbing. Some of the things that come with mood swings during perimenopause are as follows:
- Irritability: About 70% of women in perimenopause say the main emotional challenge they experience is irritability. They suddenly become easily annoyed and less tolerant of things they didn’t care as much about before.
- Anxiety: Lots of women experience nervousness, tension, panic attacks, and worry during menopause. For some of these women, their anxiety may get worse during perimenopause. And some others who never had issues with anxiety may begin to experience anxiety symptoms.
- Depression: Depression is one of the serious side effects that may come with menopause. However, it is quite more common than you would think. It affects about 20 percent of women during perimenopause.
- Crying episodes: During perimenopause, many women also notice that they cry easily over little matters. However, tears may help reduce stress. When you shed tears, you inadvertently let go of the pent-up feelings that caused the tears in the first place.
- Insomnia: Insomnia can occur as a result of mood swings. But then, it can also aggravate mood swings and make it worse. Sadly, 40 to 50% of women experience insomnia during perimenopause.
How to Manage Mood Swings During Perimenopause
There are various ways to manage mood swings if you are experiencing them during perimenopause. You can diminish or reduce mood swings when you make certain proactive changes in your lifestyle. Here are a few ideas for you:
1. Aerobic exercises
Performing about an hour of aerobic exercises four times weekly can alleviate lots of menopausal symptoms. These include mood swings, irritability, and night sweats. This is effective because when you exercise, your body releases endorphins and some other chemicals in your brain to make you feel good.
It is best to pick a specific time of the day for your exercise and stick with the plan. Then, choose the activities or exercises that you enjoy the most. These will help you to be consistent.
You may also stagger your exercises. Having a variety of workouts also encourages consistency. For instance, if you run today, you can try swimming tomorrow and cycling the next day.
Well, you should not have to very hard to get mood-boosting outcomes. Just brisk walking early in the morning before work can deliver comparable results with a marathon training when it comes to diminishing mood swings.
2. Healthy eating
Healthy eating is good for your health all-round. It strengthens your body, as well as your mind. After a protein-rich food, you would feel better from within. Pleasure foods like ice creams don’t deliver such results.
A healthy diet would contain foods like veggies, fruits, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean protein. You would nutrients like omega-3s, folate, and so on from this kind of diet. These nutrients can help lift your mood.
3. Minimize stress
De-stressing is very important if you want a better mood. Activities like meditation, quiet walks, and gentle yoga can improve mood a great deal. It can also decrease anxiety and stress. But you can also experiment with breathing, yoga poses, and mini-vacations if need be.
4. Quality sleep
Lack of quality sleep aggravates mood swings and irritability. So you should create enough time to sleep. Also, make sure to maximize comfort whenever you sleep. Make your room very comfortable, shut off all electronic devices, and eliminate ambient light.
Alcohol and caffeine can disrupt your sleep cycle. So you should avoid them as much as possible to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Sleeping for about 7-8 hours allows the repair and healing of your immune functions.
What If Lifestyle Changes Are Not Enough?
There are times when lifestyle changes may not be enough. It happens when mood swings are severe. If this happens, you can opt for hormone therapy. But usually, the doctor would start you off on the lowest dose.
More so, the therapy should last for only a short period. Some people are afraid that hormone therapy can increase cancer risks. But then, the risk only increases after you have been on hormone therapy for three years. Anyways, it is rare for a woman to use hormone therapy any longer.
You should, therefore, see a doctor for help if your perimenopause mood swings affect your daily living significantly. In all, mood swings during perimenopause are not beyond control. You can manage then with lifestyle adjustments, as well as hormonal therapy if need be.