Women enter menopause when they have not menstruated for 12 consecutive months. In the 5-10 years previous to menopause, women go through a phase of life called perimenopause, where levels of estrogen produced by the body gradually drop over time and symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, and loss of libido can occur.
Understanding that there is a chemical reason behind these symptoms, and that they will not last forever, can significantly help women to manage this phase of life more peacefully and happily.
For more understanding about perimenopause and menopause mood swings, as well as how to identify and treat them, keep reading.
What Causes Mood Swings During Perimenopause?
The hormonal changes that a woman’s body goes through during perimenopause can result in side effects, not only for the reproductive system but on various other functions of the body too. These hormonal changes typically begin in the mid-40s and one of the first side effects that many women notice is the impact on their mood.
This is due to the relationship between estrogen and a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is a happiness booster that is produced in the brain and is largely responsible for balancing our moods and emotions.
However, when estrogen levels begin to drop during perimenopause, so too does the production of serotonin, meaning our moods are more difficult to control. This imbalance is what causes women during menopause to feel less patient, more frustrated, and angrier than usual.
There is some relief though. During perimenopause, most women find that their feelings of frustration or anger can be more intense for a week or two and then subside for a month or two. This is because estrogen levels drop gradually over time and each time they drop the levels of serotonin drop too.
But once the body adapts to the lower levels of estrogen during each period of decline, the production of serotonin regulates again and emotions become more stabilized. Until the next drop in estrogen.
Perimenopause Mood Swings: How to Recognize Them
Many women recognize that perimenopause-related mood swings feel different from their usual anger or irritation. Women often experience less patience during this phase of life too, which is why mood swings associated with perimenopause are known to happen quicker and more intensely than everyday irritability, and are also known to subside just as quickly.
Indeed, the results of many medical studies have revealed that irritability, mood swings, and lack of patience are the most common perimenopause symptoms for over 70% of women.
Noticing that you feel perfectly calm and happy one minute and then deeply frustrated or angry the next minute could be a sign that your estrogen and serotonin levels have dropped.
If you notice additional symptoms such as interrupted sleep, night sweats, hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, or loss of libido, speak with your healthcare provider about treatment options for perimenopause.
Do Mood Swings Stop After Perimenopause?
Mood swings do lessen for some women, but not for all. Once women have not menstruated for 12 consecutive months and enter the phase of menopause there is no further need to manage the reproductive system, so estrogen and progesterone levels drop even more significantly.
Although some women’s mood swings can stabilize once the body adjusts to the decrease in estrogen during menopause, it is not the case for every woman. For many women, this acute drop in hormone levels can result in post-menopausal mood swings for a year or more.
There is good news, however. Because menopause symptoms are also directly related to the drop in hormone levels, specifically, estrogen, the below-mentioned treatment options for perimenopause mood swings will also help menopause mood swings.
Perimenopause and Menopause Mood Swings: How To Treat Them
While there is no quick fix for mood swings during perimenopause or menopause, a combination of lifestyle changes and natural supplements can certainly help women to feel more balanced during this phase of life. Below are our top tips to navigate fluctuating hormones and emotions in a more balanced way.
1. Chasteberry Supplements
Natural supplements are a safe and non-toxic way to treat not only mood swings related to perimenopause and menopause but most of the additional symptoms too. To treat low estrogen and rebalance the fluctuation of hormones during this phase of life, female health experts recommend Chasteberry supplements.
Also referred to by its Latin name, Vitex agnus-castus, Chasteberry has been used as a natural remedy for women’s reproductive health for over 2500 years and has seen a resurgence since successful studies were performed in Germany in the 1990s.
When taken daily for at least three months, Chasteberry Supplements, like these from Intimate Rose, help the pituitary gland to rebalance hormones, treat low estrogen levels, regulate mood swings and help soothe additional perimenopause and menopausal symptoms like; hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, osteoporosis, lack of libido and interrupted sleep.
2. Accept the Inevitable
All women go through perimenopause and menopause in one way or another and accepting that your body is going through a natural change that will subside in time will help you to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Keeping your frustration or resentment buried deep inside will only cause other symptoms in your body, like depression, so allow yourself to feel what you feel and accept that you might sometimes react in anger, frustration, or even rage.
3. Talk About It
Perimenopause and menopause are part of life and nothing to be embarrassed about. Recognizing your symptoms and explaining the chemical reaction that is causing those symptoms to your friends and family will help them to understand that your emotions might become unbalanced at times.
It may have been a taboo subject for decades, but education and awareness have opened up people’s minds about this life change. So don’t be scared or embarrassed to speak with your loved ones.
4. Regular Exercise
Several studies have proven that regular exercise is highly effective in treating low estrogen levels and perimenopause mood swings. One study, in particular, concluded that 36 sessions of anaerobic exercise for 12 weeks, proved more efficient in treating low estrogen levels and regulating mood swings than 72 sessions of aerobic exercise in the same period.
(Anaerobic exercise is similar to aerobic exercise but is performed faster and with more intensity for shorter amounts of time, for example, HIIT sessions, pilates, yoga, and circuit training.)
5. Find Your Happy Place
Mood swings related to perimenopause and menopause do not last all day, nor do they last forever. In fact, they usually subside as quickly as they arise, and learning to let go of the episode without blame or shame can significantly help women to manage this time of life.
Mind-body therapies like meditating each morning before anyone else in the house awakens, a daily yoga class, or learning to breathe in a calming and conscious way will all help you reconnect to your happy place after a mood swing.
6. Know What Sets You Off
From something as simple as other people being late to you drinking too much caffeine, external factors and lifestyle habits can trigger mood swings during perimenopause and menopause. But understanding what these triggers are for you, will help you to minimize your emotional reactions to them.
Keeping a journal of your mood swings and what you believe caused them can be incredibly enlightening and show you what to avoid or do more of. For example, dehydration, too much alcohol, smoking, sugar rushes, and lack of sleep are all known triggers of perimenopause and menopause mood swings.
7. A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet not only helps to maintain a physically fit body but it helps to support your hormonal health too. Try cutting down on processed foods and instead eat more whole foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, legumes, and nuts, as well as drinking 1-2 liters of water per day.
Eating better and drinking the right amount of water will have a beneficial impact on your mood as well as other symptoms related to perimenopause and menopause.
When To Consult with Your Doctor
If you feel like your mood swings are severely impacting your life to the point that you can no longer function well at work, at home, or with friends, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss medical options like mood-boosting medication or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Although both are known to cause side effects for some, they do help to treat perimenopause and menopause symptoms for many.
Mood swings during perimenopause or menopause are nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. They happen because of a chemical reaction within the body that women have no control over, but with some simple lifestyle changes and a daily intake of a natural supplement called Chasteberry, mood swings can be managed and your happiness can thrive once again.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your mood swings or any of the additional symptoms associated with perimenopause or menopause, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss if the natural remedies mentioned above are suitable for you before considering the medical route.
Mayo Clinic – Perimenopause - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666
Women’s Health – Menopause - https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-basics#3
National Library of Medicine - Comparison of Vitex agnus-castus Extracts with Placebo in Reducing Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Double-Blind Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6887765/
National Library of Medicine - Self-silencing, anger, and depressive symptoms in women: implications for prevention and intervention - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19842355/
National Library of Medicine - Effect of aerobic and anaerobic exercise on estrogen level, fat mass, and muscle mass among postmenopausal osteoporotic females https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619462/
Maturitis – Mind-Body therapies for menopausal symptoms – A Systemic Review - https://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122(10)00043-5/fulltext