#5 Menopause and Mood
Declining oestrogen levels associated with menopause can cause more than the dreaded hot flushes. They can also make women feel like they are in a constant state of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Suffering with:
Irritability - a surprising 70% of women describe irritability, being less tolerant, and being easily annoyed as their main emotional problems during the early stages of the menopausal transition.
Symptoms of depression can affect around 1 in every 5 women in peri-menopause.
Mood Swings - one moment everything is ok with the world, the next you're in floods of tears, for no reason you can think of.
Anxiety - A common symptom that leaves you feeling stressed, fearful or tense. It can cause physical symptoms, like palpitations, and can make hot flushes worse.
Oestrogen has the job of managing most of a woman's reproductive functions. it is also responsible for the production of serotonin.
You will probably have heard of the chemical serotonin, also known as the 'happiness hormone'. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved with positive feelings and promoting a happy mood, amongst other things. As you approach menopause, your ovaries slow their production of oestrogen, which reduces your levels of serotonin. Now, if your supply of serotonin is reduced it stands to reason you will feel less stable and optimistic.
Frequent episodes of anxiety may bring on a "Panic attack" - symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations of the heart, or feelings of "going crazy" or feeling out of control. Sometimes the onset of a hot flush is enough to trigger such an attack. (If these are getting serious it is worth having a chat with your GP to see if there is an underlying issue).
Balancing your hormones is the key to regaining mood control.
You can try several activities and lifestyle changes that might work to balance your hormones naturally.
Treatments include relaxation or stress reduction techniques, counselling or psychotherapy, and/or prescription drugs.
It may help you to handle your fluctuating emotions if you:
Eat a balanced diet and exercise.
Take up yoga, meditation, or rhythmic breathing, which will have a calming effect.
Avoid tranquilizers and alcohol.
Engage in something creative that will give you a sense of achievement.
Stay connected with your family and your community.
Nurture your friendships.
For many women, confronting the aging process triggers emotional issues around menopause. It might help to adjust your outlook and embrace this time and reflect on the realization that one important phase of life is giving way to another.
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