Your moods can fluctuate dramatically during the years leading up to menopause. One minute you feel fine, and the next you’re on the verge of tears. Or you feel totally irritated by something that usually doesn’t bother you one bit.
Mood changes are par for the course with menopause, which is when your periods stop permanently, as well as perimenopause, which is the few years before menopause. Most women experience some kind of menopausal moodiness.
Here at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati, we want to make sure you understand how menopause can affect your body and mind. Here are some helpful facts about menopause’s impact on your mental health, along with important tips for getting through it.
During the years leading up to menopause, your ovaries taper off their production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. However, the decrease in hormone production doesn’t occur smoothly.
In fact, hormone levels can fluctuate quite sporadically during perimenopause, which is why you may have a long, heavy period one month and no period at all the next. And then a normal period after that. It’s all quite unpredictable.
Because mood is linked to hormone levels, the changes in the amounts of estrogen and progesterone in your blood can contribute to mood swings.
The stresses of midlife, such as parenting older children, caring for aging parents, managing your career, saving for retirement, and dealing with midlife health challenges can exacerbate the moodiness caused by fluctuating hormone levels.
What’s more, menopause-related issues such as shifts in libido and discomfort during intercourse can pile extra stress onto you.
And if hot flashes or night sweats are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, that can have an impact on your mood, too. It’s tough to feel mentally resilient when you’re exhausted.
Although any woman can have menopausal mood swings, they’re more likely to occur in women who experienced severe PMS when they were younger, as well as those with a history of clinical depression, according to the North American Menopause Society.
A history of postpartum depression could also raise the chances of menopausal mood problems.
If you’re feeling depressed, it’s important to seek help right away. Serious depression can be successfully treated with medication, talk therapy, or both. (If you feel suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.)
Mild depression may respond to lifestyle changes such as exercise, mindfulness meditation, spending time with supportive friends and family, and doing activities you enjoy.
When menopause symptoms such as moodiness are mild, coping strategies and lifestyle choices can help you deal with them. But when menopause interferes with your relationships, career, or enjoyment of life, treatment may help.
At Associates in Women’s Health, our team of care providers is here to help. Whether you’re experiencing emotional issues, such as depression or anxiety, or physical concerns such as hot flashes, discomfort during sex, or fatigue, we work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that will help you feel better. Call our office to schedule a visit, or request an appointment today.