You’re up. You’re down. You’re mad. You’re sad. You’re all over the place.
It used to be easy for you and other people to follow your mood...but now you’re on an emotional rollercoaster where highs and lows are unpredictable and hard to understand. Are you depressed? Are you going mad?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. No, you’re not going crazy, and you won’t feel like this forever. But why are you so moody? It’s all down to your chemical levels.
Oestrogen perks us up and signals the production of serotonin, another mood booster. So, as your ovaries gradually stop chugging out as much oestrogen and progesterone, your moods can swing each time your body adjusts to a decrease in hormone levels.
This is why you might find you constantly lose your rag for a week or two and then it gets better for a month or so. Perimenopause-induced rage can feel different to a normal strop – it can come out of nowhere, with you switching from placid to seething in a matter of moments. See our page on irritability for more information.
The same may go for feeling sad. However, these emotional shifts are not the same as depression, where a very low mood is constant for two weeks or more.
Have hope. It might feel as if there is nothing you can do to regain control but there are steps you can take to help balance your hormones and help you deal with mood swings.
ACCEPT AND BE KIND
What you are experiencing is unpleasant but completely normal. It’s not your fault, and it will pass.
Try to keep in the front of your mind that you are prone to feeling things very intensely at the moment. If it helps, think of it as an extended bout of PMS. Write a postcard and stick it on your mirror that says: ‘It’s not me, it’s my hormones.’ Be gentle with yourself.
LET IT OUT
The people around you are not psychic. Let them know how you are feeling. Explain as best you can why you cried or flared up. Tell them what you need – whether that’s some space, an ear or a hug.
It might sound obvious, but we are all guilty sometimes of feeling more upset or angry because someone hasn’t given us the ‘right’ support. But they might feel as lost as you and that they can’t do anything right. Let it all out and help them understand.
GET TRIGGER HAPPY
Is there a pattern to your mood swings?
If you want to claw back some control, get some valuable information by keeping a log for a few weeks; what you ate, how much sleep you’ve had, your exercise and how you felt at different times in the day.
If notebooks don’t excite you, find a menopause app to play with. Who knows what you might discover that will help you balance your life better?
If you don’t already, perhaps it’s time to weave some relaxation exercise into your day?
Yoga and meditation are great ways to untangle your mind and body. Hey, even if you just sit somewhere comfy and spend five minutes breathing in for a count of six and out for a count of 12, you and your frayed nerves will benefit.
If stretching or sitting still doesn’t float your boat then go and pound the hell out of a boxing bag. Just do something that releases pent-up tension.
HAVE A TURKEY SANDWICH
Eating certain foods can make menopausal mood swings more bearable.
Complex carbs like oats and quinoa, protein-rich eggs, turkey, cheese and Omega-3 packed fish can help stabilise your blood sugar and your mental state. Find a good nutritionist and ask them to create a plan for you.
FIND THE RIGHT MEDS
If you’ve tried everything and your mood is consistently getting worse, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Whether it’s how to control mood swings naturally, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT or anti-depressant medication for low mood, they are the experts and can help you find the right course of action for you. If your mood symptoms are related to the menopause, HRT can be more effective than antidepressants.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
When you’re in the line of fire of a mood swing, it can make you want to stomp away. Instead, read and absorb these tips so next time they blow, you’re ready to calm the situation down.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
In terms of self-care, we’ve recommended that they eat complex carbs like oats and quinoa, protein-rich eggs, turkey, cheese and Omega-3 packed fish to help stabilise their blood sugar and mood.
It’s important they keep talking about how they feel (perhaps to a friend, relative, partner or counsellor). They could also ask their doctor about how they can control mood swings naturally or balance them out with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or antidepressants.
RESIST THE URGE TO SNAP BACK
It’s not always easy when you’re on the receiving end but try your best to stay calm when tensions flair. It will pass and contrary to how it feels right now, it’s not all your fault.
Neuro-receptors in their brain are being affected by fluctuating oestrogen levels which can result in a quick temper and sharp tongue.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
We appreciate it may feel like a personal slight if they are being off with you or generally withdrawn. But it’s most likely nothing to do with you.
Bear in mind that they might be feeling sensitive or physically rotten due to their fluctuating hormones. Take a deep breath and either ask them if anything is wrong or if they need some space.
GO WITH THE FLOW
You might notice their mood swings often strike at times when you’ve got plans. The truth is going to social events may be more stressful than usual, as the pressure of keeping up appearances when you’re not feeling like yourself is hard work.
Be prepared for plans to change at short notice and try not to put them under any pressure, even if it means you are missing out as well.
CREATE BREATHING SPACE
Slow, deep breaths initiate the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect and can improve mood swings. Taking time to practice and improve your breathing together means you’re more likely to keep up with it.
Yoga and meditation are both great, and there are loads of ‘how to’ videos and mindfulness apps which mean you can practice from the comfort of your living room.
LET THEM KNOW YOU CARE
Knowing we’re loved, appreciated and supported is a powerful thing when we’re feeling emotionally and physically a bit wobbly. However, telling a friend or partner without sounding patronising is easier said than done.
Let them know through your actions. If you live with them, that might be making time to eat dinner together, asking how their day has been and really listening, or gestures like prepping their lunch for work and sorting chores without being asked.
If you’re a friend, why not send a care package, arrange a coffee or even just drop them a text to let them know you’re thinking of them?
If you’re worried about mood swings, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you.