If you’re in the throes of menopause and feeling a little “all over the place,” you’re not alone. One of the most common side effects of this massive life change is turbulent emotions. The good news is that feeling this imbalance is completely normal. Here are a few tips on how to cope with these emotional shifts so they don’t rule your life.
Emotions and menopause
For many women of a certain age, a surefire sign that they’re entering peri-menopause — the phase before menopause — is that they start riding an emotional roller coaster. One minute they’re happy and enjoying the day, the next they’re cranky and may feel like crying. These up-and-down mood shifts occur because hormone levels before and during menopause plummet (balanced levels of estrogen regulate mood). What’s more is that low estrogen levels may contribute to depressive symptoms.
How you can cope
There are several things you can do, in consultation with your doctor, to cope with mood swings related to peri-menopause and menopause.
Look into estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). This therapy increases the amount of hormones in a woman’s body, thereby decreasing the side effects she may experience during menopause.
Work out. Exercise is a natural mood booster and regulator because it helps increase endorphin levels — the feel-good hormones — in the body. It also improves body image. The body’s physical state may shift during menopause; for example, weight loss becomes more difficult.
Know the signs of depression. There’s a difference between having a bad day and being depressed, and it’s important to know that difference at this hormonally charged time. If you feel sad for no reason or are more irritable than usual, and these symptoms have been present for two or three weeks, speak with your doctor. He or she can help you develop a treatment plan, which could include taking medication.
Focus on yourself. At this turbulent time of life it’s important to take time to relax, de-stress and take care of yourself. Practice meditation and yoga — these help improve breathing and may decrease high levels of stress. You should also spend as much time as possible doing activities that make you feel relaxed, as this will help boost the feel-good hormones in your body.
Take care of yourself. As with any major health change, maintaining a balanced diet and drinking a lot of water can go a long way to improving the health and state of your body — physically and mentally. If you smoke, attempt to quit, and scale back on how much alcohol and caffeine you consume (both of which can affect mood). You may also want to speak to a naturopathic doctor about your vitamin levels, as low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression.