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How to Handle Roller Coaster Emotions

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 1 Feb 2015 | comments*Discuss
Menopause Womens Health Emotions Mood

If you have already begun to experience symptoms associated with menopause, one of the most frustrating symptoms can be intense mood swings that seemingly come from nowhere at all. As oestrogen levels decline, some women find that the common symptoms such as hot flashes and irregular periods are the least of their worries. Instead, huge mood swings and a feeling that you can't control your thoughts and temper can leave you feeling as though you are in a regular state of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). While the feelings are normal and are considered a natural albeit annoying part of menopause, there are fortunately ways to handle these wild, roller coaster emotions that affect women's health.

What Feelings do Women Experience in Menopause?

While the range of emotions that a woman can experience during the perimenopause and menopause phases is broad, common emotions include:
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Anger
  • Uncharacteristic aggression
  • Poor motivation
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Exhaustion.

You may even experience none of these although most women can expect some changes to their emotions during the menopausal transition. Others will find they feel all of these emotions, which can not only leave a woman feeling terrible but can also wreak havoc with her relationships and her ability to function at work and in her home. You should also keep in mind that these emotions may coincidentally occur at the same time as your menopausal transition but they may ultimately be unrelated to menopause. Many other conditions can cause you to feel upset or anxious. It's a good idea to speak to your doctor to ensure that your emotional changes are, in fact, due to menopause.

Coping With Menopause

If each day of your menopausal transition is like living on a constant roller coaster, you can choose to climb off the ride now because there are a number of strategies to handle your wild emotions. Keep in mind the use of the word 'strategy' because while you may not be able to stop each of your emotions, you can put in effort to handle them in a way that helps, rather than fuels the mood swings.

First and foremost, lifestyle changes can have a large impact on the emotional aspects of menopause. Most of us will be grumpy if we don't get enough rest and suffer from insomnia, whether we are menopausal or not! Try to ensure you make enough time for sleep each night; it can help to keep your room dark and quiet to prevent insomnia. Eat consistent, healthy meals to keep blood sugar stable and try to fit in some exercise each day, even if it is only a ten-minute to half hour walk outside near your house. Ideally, you should aim for moderate to high-intensity exercise at least three times a week. You can encourage the production of your body's 'feel good' chemicals known as endorphins. These are natural mood enhancers that can help you to feel more positive and less emotional. It's also helpful to avoid or limit alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.

Some women find that calming practices such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises help them to cope with stress and remain relaxed and stable. Other ways to ease your way through the roller coaster emotions of menopause include finding new outlets for your own personal creativity. Consider trying a new hobby. Use this time of physical and emotional change to find and nurture new talents and activities that you enjoy.

Keeping Emotions Stable to Foster Healthy Relationships

One of the unfortunate side effects of angry and irritable emotions is that they can cause us to say and do things that would normally be considered out of character for us. You might find you are more verbal about your feelings in a way that hurts your partner, family or friends. In this way, you may be pushing away the people who can offer support and help you get through menopause with less stress and anxiety.

While depression is not solely caused by menopause, some women will experience the symptoms of depression during menopause. Your doctor may recommend a short course of antidepressants or counselling therapy to help you during this transitional time.

Try to stay connected with your loved ones and make an effort to focus on friendships and those who are important in your life. You can let people know that you are having a hard time with the roller coaster emotions of menopause. Reassure family and friends that you value them in your life. Try to also resolve to manage your emotions in productive, non-hurtful ways. If you feel yourself getting angry, take a time out and pause to ask yourself: "What am I really upset about here? Is my anger realistic for the situation?"

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for Women's Health

Although research does indicate that HRT can ease the emotional aspects of menopause, there are still risks associated with HRT and other body systems. It's important to talk to your doctor about whether HRT is right for you and if it will help you deal with the emotional aspects of the menopausal transition.

Getting Support and Advice

It may be somewhat of a relief to know that other women have experienced what you are going through and some perhaps to even more of an extreme. For many of us, it is helpful to know that we can speak to an older family member such as a parent or an aunt. They will likely know what you are going through and may be able to offer support and advice on how to handle the emotional roller coaster of menopause.

It can seem like a battle that never ends when it comes to coping with the emotional challenges of menopause, but there are ways and tactics to improve your moods and how you communicate with others around you. In this way, you can better come to terms with the menopausal changes in your body. Instead of pushing others away from you with your mood swings, you will be obtaining support and love to help you through this difficult time.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
@ozzygirl. It could be menopause, but it could also be a combination of menopause and depression as you suggest. Take a trip to your GP, there's a simple blood test that you can take which will indicate whether you are menopausal and you'll also be able to ask about your other symptoms.
MenopauseExpert - 4-Feb-15 @ 2:24 PM
I have had depression for 14 years, since the breakdown of my family due to my ex's infidelity.I have struggled since.Having now turned 50 I seem to be experiencing menopause.I haven't had a period for about eight months, sweat at night time, have bouts of itchy skin (for no apparent reason) and get stroppy/angry at the drop of a hat.My problem is I don't know how much is me, how much is depression and how much is menopausal.My poor husband is in the firing line most of the time.I also feel very sad that I won't have any more children; even though I don't want any more.It's all very confusing.
ozzgirl - 1-Feb-15 @ 3:40 PM
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