When I was going through menopause, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster of emotions! Hormonal changes can make our emotions swing from happiness to frustration in the space of an hour.
If you feel like mood swings are triggered by the slightest thing, and your interactions with people are irrational or unchecked, you could be going through perimenopause. Declining hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause can affect you emotionally and cause you to feel a range of emotions, including:
- Mood swings
There is some evidence to suggest that menopause can cause depression during the change. This study shows that depressive symptoms and diagnosis are common for women going through stages of menopause. Always seek help if you think you are depressed.
We will look at some of the feelings we can experience during perimenopause and menopause and ways you can manage your emotions at this time.
Common emotional symptoms of menopause
Sometimes it is hard to know if emotions are all over the place because our lives are busy or something is going on with our unpredictable hormones!
If you have started going through perimenopause, you may have noticed not only emotional fluctuations but also physical changes. Perimenopause is a time of significant change, and it can happen over up to 10 years. Oestrogen levels drop, causing physical symptoms such as:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Thinning hair
- Changes to vaginal health
- Bladder weakness
- Higher cholesterol levels
- Unwanted weight gain
If you are experiencing any of these physical symptoms and notice unexplained or irrational emotional changes, it could be the beginning of perimenopause. Read:
- Signs of premature and early menopause
- How do I Know if I Suffer from Hormone Imbalance?
- The Best Ways to Lose Weight Naturally during Menopause
- Metabolism Changes During Menopause Can Make You Gain Weight
Perimenopause can commence any time from 45 onwards. If you are under 45, you could be starting menopause early.
Perimenopause can cause you to become irrational at this time. Other emotional symptoms you could be experiencing include:
- Anger or aggression
- Lack of motivation
- Increased tension and stress
- Nervous and anxious
- Sad and melancholy
- Fatigued (due to lack of sleep)
Not every woman will experience the whole range of physical and emotional symptoms, but you can be assured that what you are experiencing is very normal and there is help if you need it.
Is it common to experience mood swings during menopause?
Yes, mood swings during menopause are prevalent. They are described as being extremely rapid mood changes. Women can find themselves reacting to the slightest annoyance with anger, tears, irritability, and sadness. These swings can be attributed to lower levels of oestrogen associated with perimenopause.
Common emotional symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can range from crying all the time to feelings of uncontrolled rage. Some women will experience the whole range, while others will only have one or two.
How menopause can affect you emotionally
Your best guide to how irrational or extreme your emotions might be is to observe how your close family and friends react when you are feeling out of sorts.
If you feel like you are getting everyone offside, your emotions may be irritating not only you but your closest as well.
You are not to blame for the emotional roller coaster you are feeling. Oestrogen levels plummet, and so does the production of serotonin. Serotonin is the mood-stabilising chemical that keeps you feeling optimistic and stable.
Educating your partner or close family members can be the first step to gaining support at this time. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, an Australian not-for-profit organisation, specialising in women's health, has a helpful article about sharing and discussing your symptoms with your partner.
We will look at the emotional symptoms in more detail.
Irritability is when feelings of frustration and anger develop over simple things. It might be as simple as your partner not packing the dishwasher the way you like or a driver who cuts you off when driving. Read:
- Why is anxiety worse during menopause?
- Can Lemon Balm Help with Anxiety?
- What Can I Do to Stop Being Anxious About Going to Work?
It is perfectly normal to experience irritation when something goes wrong. When that irritation is persistent or it feels like it interferes with your daily life, you may wish to speak to your General Practitioner about it.
This study found that irritability is a common sign or symptom of perimenopause or menopause.
Fatigue is a common complaint during menopause as women quite often have trouble sleeping due to physical symptoms like night sweats. As we know, it is challenging to function with little sleep.
There is a solution, and it's not climbing into bed to try and catch up on sleep (although that would help); it's exercise. This study found that women who completed moderate to vigorous daily exercise reported higher energy and better sleep patterns.
Endorphin hormones are stimulated by any exercise that elevates your heart rate for around 30 minutes a day.
The Australian Government Health Direct Website has some helpful exercise guidelines in this handy guide.
If you are concerned about the quantity of sleep you are getting (or not), check out the sleep section on Health Direct for how much you need and how to practice good ‘sleep hygiene.’ Read:
- The best sleep teas in Australia and New Zealand
- Which Herbal Teas Should I Drink for Stress and Anxiety?
Feeling intense anger can be caused by perimenopause and menopause. It does not mean you are going crazy! It can be directly related to hormone fluctuations that cause annoying hot flashes, night sweats and unwanted weight gain. Another name for intense menopause anger is menopausal rage.
Sometimes menopausal rage is related to the realisation that we are aging, and our bodies don’t look or feel the same anymore. The low serotonin levels that we talked about before can make us feel cross with the world.
At this stage in their lives, women are sometimes referred to as the "sandwich generation" because they are beginning to care for aging parents or their children are leaving home. Some may have grandchildren. Additional pressures on hormonal changes can make us feel overloaded and angry.
Crying during menopause
Sometimes it's good to have a big old cry. An emotional release can be just what your body needs after a hard day at work. But what if you can't stop crying?
You may find yourself crying in situations that would not usually affect you. A newborn baby, a tiny puppy, a sad movie, or someone else's misfortune may make you weepy. If this is uncharacteristic and you never usually break out the tissues, you can be forgiven for feeling concerned.
The truth is crying can be another common symptom of the rollercoaster we call perimenopause. Reduced oestrogen and serotonin levels are to blame again! But don't worry, you are not alone, and it will come to an end eventually.
Menopause can trigger high anxiety.
When you have menopausal anxiety, you may have constant fear or worry that won't go away. If the stress you feel makes day to day tasks difficult or impossible, you could say you are experiencing high anxiety.
It is usual for women to experience anxiety during menopause due to dipping oestrogen levels and outside factors such as significant life disruptions – caring for a parent or losing a loved one.
For further information about the types of anxiety you can experience and how to treat it, read this article:
Difference between menopausal anxiety and menopausal depression
|Symptoms||Menopausal anxiety||Menopausal depression|
|Experiencing constant fear and worry||Y||Y|
|Feelings of deep sadness and emptiness||N||Y|
|Excessive anxious energy||Y||N|
|Lack of physical energy||N||Y|
|Elevated heart rate||Y||N|
|Difficulty breathing (hyperventilation)||Y||N|
|Loss of interest||N||Y|
|Poor performance at work||N||Y|
|Fear of death||Y||N|
Going through perimenopause can put women at risk of becoming depressed. All the symptoms we have discussed can be factors that lead to menopausal depression:
- hormone changes
- weight gain
- major life changes
The feelings you experience during menopause can sometimes coincide, which means you could have both anxiety and depression at the same time.
Both conditions are potentially serious, and you should seek medical help if you don't feel you can cope. For further information about the psychological aspects of menopause, this peer-reviewed article is worth a read.
Can menopause make you fall out of love?
Many women experience a loss of sexual desire and report not liking to be touched during perimenopause. This does not necessarily mean that they have fallen out of love; they may be experiencing vaginal dryness or decreased bladder control. Both these symptoms can make you feel very unsexy! Luckily there are lubricating products to help with a dry vagina.
As you can see, menopause can bring out emotions that we have never experienced before. The combination of low oestrogen and some of the more uncomfortable symptoms of menopause can be responsible for women feeling uncontrolled anger, weepiness, irritability, and anxiety. All these emotions are normal.
The average age of menopause in Australia
Menopause is a normal part of aging for women. The average age Australian women experience menopause is between 45 and 60 years.
Perimenopause can last around 10 years, and this is when you can experience the most symptoms. The first sign that perimenopause might be starting can be irregular periods with occasional heavy bleeding. Your ovaries stop releasing eggs and are no longer able to fall pregnant.
When a woman has gone without having a period for 12 months it is said that she has reached menopause. The average age of menopause is 51 years. According to this study race and ethnicity can influence the average age women experience perimenopause and menopause
Premature menopause can occur in around 1% of women. This is when a woman begins perimenopause between the age of 40 and 45. Women who experience early menopause can face their own emotional issues, such as:
- Grief – for the children that they never had
- Self-esteem issues
- stressing about premature aging
- Fears of becoming sexually unattractive
Hormone replacement therapy during menopause
Some women pass through perimenopause and menopause with no need for medical intervention. Hormone replacement therapy can be a relief for some women experiencing symptoms and feeling no control.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces waning hormones oestrogen and progesterone during perimenopause. HRT can be used to relieve some of the symptoms of menopause, such as
- bone loss
- irregular bleeding
- night sweats and hot flashes
- mood swings and irritability
- vaginal dryness or itching
- low sex drive
- loss of bladder control
Hormone replacement is not the choice of every woman going through menopause. If you feel that the symptoms you are experiencing are making your life difficult and you would like some medical help, HRT could be for you.
Women who begin menopause early can benefit from HRT. If you have started going through early menopause before 45 due to your ovaries losing normal function, hormone replacement can help. Other cases where HRT can help:
- breast cancer
- ovary removal
HRT has had a somewhat controversial history, with some medical practitioners making claims of increased risks of some cancers. This article has some helpful information about the history and concerns about hormone replacement therapy. The paper concludes that the benefits outweigh the risks, and that HRT can be an effective and primarily safe treatment for women experiencing symptoms of menopause.
For further information about the concerns of HRT and menopause, you can also read this article from the Australian Menopause Society website.
Hormone replacement therapy is not for everyone, but it can be an effective treatment for women who feel their symptoms are beyond their control. HRT is used widely to control the symptoms of mood swings, night sweats, hot flashes, low sex drive, insomnia, and irregular bleeding.
Teas to soothe your emotions during menopause
If medical intervention is not for you, there are several soothing and natural teas available to help with the emotional symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
Natural teas with relaxing properties can effectively treat women with emotional concerns. Teas such as valerian and chamomile have natural relaxants. At the same time, licorice can ease the severity of hot flashes, and red raspberry leaf can stem heavy bleeding or irregular periods during perimenopause.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these teas and how they can help your menopause symptoms.
Red raspberry leaf tea can ease your mind and your emotions
Red raspberry leaf tea can be a safe tea to drink if you are experiencing the uncomfortable symptom of perimenopause, irregular periods accompanied by heavy bleeding.
During the beginning of perimenopause, women often go through stages of bleeding heavily to not bleeding at all some months. This can make you feel out of sorts, and emotions can run high. Some people liken the symptoms to those of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The active ingredient in red raspberry leaf tea is flavonoids and tannins with astringent properties. Women in the postpartum stage of pregnancy have used red raspberry leaf tea for uterus strengthening and recovery. The tea can have the same benefits for menopausal women with heavy bleeding.
For further information about how red raspberry leaf tea can strengthen your uterine walls, read this article:
Valerian tea could help you sleep and soothe your emotions
Valerian root tea can promote sleep and relaxation when you feel emotional and suffer from fatigue during menopause.
Not only does valerian help you sleep, but it can also stop the annoying hot flashes and night sweats that accompany perimenopause. This study shows how effective valerian root is in reducing the severity and occurrence of hot flashes due to the phytoestrogen present in valerian root.
If it is sleep that you are lacking, a cup of hot valerian root tea just before bed can help you get the sleep you need. Drinking 1 – 3 cups throughout the day can help you relax and enjoy your day more. Sweeten with natural Organic stevia leaf powder if you prefer a sweeter beverage.
Read this article if you would like some more information about other herbal teas that can help with anxiety and hot flashes.
- Anxiety can cause hot flashes during menopause
- Valerian Root: My Best Natural Supplement for Anxiety
Liquorice root tea can sweeten your emotions
Liquorice root tea is a naturally sweet tea made from liquorice root, traditionally used as a flavour for sweets and candies. So, if you feel like something sweet and trying to watch your weight, sip on a cup of liquorice root tea.
Not only does it taste delicious, but liquorice root tea can also treat hot flashes due to the presence of phytoestrogen. Unlike valerian root, which is safe, liquorice does come with a health warning to increase blood pressure. If you believe your blood pressure is high, check with your health professional before taking liquorice root tea or supplements.
Liquorice root has many other benefits, including being an excellent treatment for digestion and weight loss. Check out these articles for more information.
Stress relief tea anong is a blended tea that can naturally calm your emotions.
Stress relief tea anong is a blend of Cinnamon quills, chamomile, fennel seeds, ashwagandha, ginkgo Biloba and valerian root. The tea is full of antioxidants and nutrients that can help to calm your emotions naturally.
We have already discussed the benefits of valerian root so let's look at the other ingredients of this health-giving blended tea.
- Chamomile Tea – Chamomile tea has been used for centuries to send people off to sleep. It is a calming tea that re-regulates your circadian rhythm and promotes a good night sleep. The calming properties of this tea can help regulate your emotions during menopause.
- Ashwagandha tea – this tea can reduce your stress levels and be an effective treatment for the emotional symptoms of perimenopause. If you are drinking this on its own, it is best to consume it in the morning and night. For further information about the benefits of ashwagandha tea, read this article:
- Ginkgo biloba – has been found to improve memory, attention, and mental flexibility. One of the symptoms of perimenopause is memory loss and inattention.
With cinnamon quills and fennel seeds to taste, this delicious tea has it all!
There is a range of delicious natural teas you can sip when going through perimenopause. The relaxing properties of valerian root and the healing properties of liquorice can help with some of the symptoms such as fatigue, hot flashes, and some of the intense emotions we experience during menopause.
When to seek help for emotional issues during menopause
If you ever feel that you can't control your emotions and affect your relationships and wellbeing, it might be time to seek help. The first step to help yourself is to admit that you need some help.
When your menopausal emotions are getting you down, your first visit should be to your GP. Your GP can recommend a counsellor or organise a mental health plan to suit your needs. Medicare subsidises a mental health plan, and you can access six sessions through this scheme. For further information, refer to Health Direct for details.
The most important thing to remember is you are not alone. No matter how silly you feel seeking help, know that many menopausal women have asked for help before you. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If you don't feel comfortable speaking to your GP, Beyond Blue foundation can help you with immediate support.
This study has shown that early intervention can help to reduce the likelihood of clinical depression in menopausal women. Early intervention could be as simple as counselling sessions to prepare for the onset of mood swings associated with perimenopause or an exercise or relaxation program to target overwhelmed feelings.
Asking for help during menopause when you are feeling low is very important. The emotional roller coaster of menopause can make us think that we are alone and that no one else feels the same. This is untrue, and there is help available through your GP or websites such as Beyond Blue.
Menopause is a challenging time for many women. The range of emotions and physical symptoms that women experience at this time can make you feel like nothing is ever going to be the same again.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there is also help if you need it. Your body will get through perimenopause, and you should see an end to mood swings, emotional outbursts, and irritability. So, get support if you need it and talk to some other women about your feelings. You will find that you are not alone!