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Mood Swings and Menopause – You’re Not “Going Mental!”

Posted Apr 06 2012 10:55pm

Flowers in the Rain © lynette sheppard

Enjoy this guest post by Katie Brind’Amour, guaranteed to make you feel better about feeling moody. Happy Easter, dear goddesses.

Foggy memory, endless fatigue, a total lack of interest between the sheets, hot flashes, night sweats, and more emotional turbulence than a 13-year-old with a maddening bout of PMS can make feeling like a Menopause Goddess a bit difficult to achieve at times.

Can all of these symptoms really be normal?  (Yes.)

Aren’t mood swings and emotional freak-out sessions for teens and pregnant women? (As you are currently finding out, no, they are not.)

Do frequent changes in emotions indicate something serious, like bipolar disorder or depression? (This depends on whether you are swinging between talking with God – and hearing him answer! – and feeling like there is nothing more pointless than life. If this is you, talk to a mental health professional, ASAP.)

Because of the shifting and subsiding hormone levels in your body, menopause can cause bouts of depression in otherwise happy individuals. Feeling blue or down in the dumps can come and go like hot flashes or hang on for hours or days at a time.

During menopause, your body is adjusting to a new mode of operation, in a sense. If insecurity and anxiety about life after periods wasn’t enough, there are plenty of thing’s you’re probably worried about because you just can’t help it – your decreased estrogen levels are tricking you into irritability, pushing you back and forth between elation and hopelessness with no care at all for what you want to think or feel.

If you are one of the lucky ladies getting heart palpitations and a hot flash just thinking about how moody you are destined to be at some point later today, however, keep in mind these witty reflections on menopause and mood swings:

“There is no more creative force in the world than the menopausal woman with zest.” – Margaret Mead

“The heyday of woman’s life is the shady side of fifty.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“Swing high, swing low, over the emotional roller coaster I go.” – C. Yousey

“On a bad day, I have mood swings – but on a good day, I have the whole mood playground.” – Charles Rosenblum

Managing Menopausal Mood Swings

Keep in mind that most mood swings are natural symptoms of menopause , and that “This too shall pass.”

Enough of the proverbial chat, though – here are a few tips for managing mood swings.
1.  Recite a personal mantra. “I will feel like myself again soon,” or “I am a Menopause Goddess” should be a good start, but feel free to tweak as you see fit.
2.  Count to 20 (or higher!) before responding to something that upsets you. If you can keep yourself from the impulsive lash-out (or gush of tears) that often comes with bouts of anger or irritability, you can also save yourself the guilt and confusion that comes from a senseless over-reaction.
3.  Incorporate stress relief into your daily life. Massage, meditation, and relaxation therapy can help alleviate mood swings and improve your outlook on life post-period.
4.  Get some exercise. If you suffer from volatile moods or a general feeling of irritability, exercise can help flood your brain with feel-good chemicals that can improve mood, regulate hot flashes, and even help you sleep better.
5.  For heaven’s sake, talk to someone. If you are overwhelmed or afraid that you are experiencing something out of hand or unhealthy, talk to your fellow goddesses or your health professional – feeling isolated or abnormal can worsen your experience with hormone havoc, and you owe it to yourself to have some semblance of control over your life and emotions.
So if menopausal mood swings have got you down (and up, and everywhere in between), take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Use the remedies above and brainstorm a few of your own to get a personalized handle on your emotions, then breathe easy knowing that you have officially become a master of menopause mood swings.

Katie Brind’Amour is a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health and wellness writer. She enjoys blogging about friendship and life in the not-so-fast lane while chipping away at her PhD in Health Services Management and Policy.

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