After the age of 45-50, one might notice irregular periods or longer or shorter duration of periods. It directly indicates that the woman may be entering her phase of menopause. Every woman enters menopause if she goes without periods for more than 12 months.
The relation between menopause and mood swings
While most women transition to menopause without any psychiatric disorders, an estimate of 20 percent suffer from depression or mood swings during their transition period.
Many studies show the relationship between hormonal changes in women’s bodies and their psychiatric changes. When a woman enters her late 30s, estrogen and progesterone level gradually start to decrease. As the hormone level goes down, the body, as well as the brain, goes through several changes which cause mood swings.
Reduction of such hormones leads to perimenopause and eventually menopause. This also causes discomfort like hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness and sleeping disturbance. All these lead to anxiety, fear, irritability, low mood, etc. Due to irritability it leads to memory lapses and lack of concentration.
Women with a history of premenstrual syndrome are more likely to experience sharp mood swings. Also, women who previously had clinical depression are more likely to relapse even years before their actual menopause.
Psychological and social reasons
Various psychological and social studies suggest that women go through depression during menopause and perimenopause. One of them is Empty Nest Syndrome (grief or sadness that parents feel when children move out of the house). The other reasons change in the process of conceiving and infertility.
Estrogen which is produced by the ovaries in the female body controls the amount of serotonin produced by the brain and serotonin plays a huge role in regulating one’s mood. So, when estrogen level decreases it eventually affects serotonin level and therefore, causes mood swings and reduces optimism level.
There are three stages in which women experience different mood swings
Perimenopause: This is the period when the body goes through all the changes which cause extreme feelings of anxiety, anger, and panic. Women at this stage seem to get annoyed over every little thing.
Menopause: This stage causes mental fogginess due to hormonal shifts.
Postmenopause: As the estrogen level goes down, feeling of depression and anxiety increase.
This extreme change in mood causes distress, trauma and effects overall well being. These changes also affect their social lives and their relationship, especially with their spouses, children, and colleagues.
Depression during menopause can be treated just like depression caused on regular days. It is always good to consult a doctor when you get recurring thoughts of suicide, sadness or fatigue. Many ways work best while dealing with menopause depression. Some of those treatments are:
Hormone replacement therapy: This therapy helps to compensate for the low estrogen level by administering the dosage of the hormone through pills or gels. This is helpful for women who have undergone surgery for uterus removal. Another similar method is called Tropical Estrogen in which creams, sprays, and gels are used for transferring estrogen level in the body. This is also done through vaginal creams and gels known as Vaginal Estrogen.
Change in lifestyle: It is important to focus on proper diet and regular exercise to improve your physical and mental well-being. Also, try and avoid junk food and alcohol during this period. Psychotherapy and antidepressants are also helpful in dealing with insomnia and panic attacks.
Natural remedies for mood swings
Ginseng: A medicinal herb also known as “energizer” or “normalizer” helps in improving mood and sleep. This herb can be taken as a tea or extract. This is also helpful in treating stress, anxiety, vaginal dryness, cognitive impairments and laziness which are all the symptoms of menopause.
St. John’s wort: A flowering plant of the genus Hypericum is used as a medicinal herb to treat depression and anxiety. It has been used as a natural antidepressant for 2,000 years.
Red Clover: This helps in reducing hot flashes and breast pain. Isoflavones present in red clover helps in depression and reduces anxiety.
Yoga and meditation: This can reduce anxiety and stress and can make you feel lighter by the techniques of stretching. This also relaxes the muscles and helps in better sleep.
Consult a doctor
If you think your mood swings and depression are severe, and it is affecting your life as well as the lives of the people associated with you, you definitely should seek medical advice. Your doctor can help you deal with the transition through therapies and medication (if necessary). The symptoms are always treatable in the case of menopause depression. You need to find the right doctor and medicine that is most effective for you.