The Anatomy of a Mood Swing Infographic

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The Anatomy Of A Mood Swing

When women enter their 40s and start taking steps toward menopause, mood swings are one of the first problems they will face. If you are a woman in this stage of life, you may find that one moment you feel great, and then the next moment you are sobbing and feeling depressed.

When this happens, it's important to know that it’s normal, and you are not alone. This is what a mood swing is. Understanding the science behind what is happening will help you deal with these mood swings.

Hormonal Changes

When you age, the levels of estrogen in your body will change. Progesterone levels also drop. These changes are in preparation for menopause and the cessation of fertility. However, they can affect mood.

Estrogen is connected to the production of serotonin, which is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. When estrogen levels drop, serotonin production is disrupted. This, in turn, causes the mood swings that you are experiencing.

Additional Factors

Hormones are the primary reason for mood swings, but more factors come into play. During midlife, women are dealing with more life stress than at any other time. They may be experiencing night sweats and difficulty sleeping. This leads to fatigue. All of this affects the mood and also disrupts serotonin production. Without enough serotonin, the body cannot properly regulate its moods, and you experience a mood swing.

What to Do About Mood Swings

Mood swings are a part of aging for many women, but the good news is that you can take steps to help prevent them and manage them when they occur. Often, a healthy lifestyle is the first step in preventing mood swings. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is the first step. Also, getting exercise on a daily basis will help. Exercise releases hormones that help you feel great, and also helps you deal with stress well, and these combine to help limit problems with mood swings. Getting enough sleep, when possible, is also helpful. Finally, avoid caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol, which can disrupt your hormones and mood even more.

Sometimes, however, all of the lifestyle changes you make are not enough. For severe mood swings, especially those that interfere with enjoying everyday life, hormone therapy can help. Choose the lowest dose recommended by your doctor for the shortest amount of time for the best results and lowered risk of complications. If your mood swings are causing problems like depression, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) may be able to provide relief. Even a low-dose birth control pill, which offers some additional estrogen and progestin, can help. Some women also find relief with alternative medicine, like acupuncture, traditional herbal therapies and meditation.

Regardless of how you find relief, it's important to realize that mood swings are normal, and that treatment exists to help you get relief. With the right help, you can learn to manage mood swings and potentially prevent them, as you focus on a healthy lifestyle in the pre-menopause and menopause years.

To learn more menopause, visit our Menopause Map today.

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