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5 Reasons You Might Have Mood Swings During Menopause

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Updated March 25, 2008

Although most women go through menopause without mood problems, there are some for whom it is a roller coaster of emotions. If you are noticing more sadness, irritability, unpredictable mood changes, or anxiety, here are 5 things that might be causing your menopause distress.

1. You Might Be One of Those "Sensitive Types"

For reasons that aren't completely known, some women are just highly sensitive to changes in hormone levels. If you have been prone to premenstrual mood problems, have had a post-partum depression, or were extremely "emotional" during a pregnancy, you may be one of these sensitive souls who struggles every time the estrogen drops. If this is the reason behind your mood swings, you might be a good candidate for a short course of hormone therapy to even out the bumps. Talk it over with your doctor if you think this describes you.

2. You're Not Getting Good Sleep

If for some reason you are not getting enough deep, restorative sleep at night, it could make you feel irritable or anxious. If you have night sweats -- even mild ones -- you may be missing that deep sleep that keeps you on an even keel during the day. Snoring may indicate that you have sleep apnea -- another reason women fail to get the sleep they need. And being a constant worrier can also ruin your rest. Talk it over with your doctor and find out whether treating your hot flashes, diagnosing a sleep disorder like apnea, or managing your stress would put you on the road to a better night's sleep. It's hard to be positive when your body (and brain!) are craving sleep.

3. You've Had Depression in the Past

Women with a history of depression are more likely to suffer from similar mood problems during menopause. If you have ever been on antidepressants or have been diagnosed with major depression it's important to be aware that you may struggle with this again during menopause. At the first sign that your mood is slipping, check with your doctor or counselor about whether you will need added support as you adjust to your hormones. This is not being "wimpy" -- it's being smart. The earlier you intervene with a recurring bout of depression, the less it will affect your life and relationships. If you are not taking as much interest in your life, or if you are sad, irritable or anxious, it's time to talk to someone you trust.

4. Too Much Change in Your Life

Change is a part of living, and sometimes it is wonderful. But it is also stressful and if you are undergoing major changes in your life, they can affect your mood. A new job, moving, marital changes, kids leaving home, parents becoming ill -- these are all common during midlife and any one of them can stretch you beyond your limits. If you are irritable, sad, preoccupied, anxious or losing sleep because of the circumstances in your life, you will be less effective managing these changes. Reducing stress and making healthy lifestyle decisions can help. Don't try to be Superwoman when there's too much going on. Give yourself permission to get whatever help and support makes sense, and you'll find your mood is lighter.

5. Your Attitude

Until you reach forty, you may not have thought much about older women and how you feel about them. But when you begin to see yourself in early middle age, you come face to face with your attitudes about aging, and especially about being an older woman. If you feel sad, despairing or angry about getting older, your mood will spill over into other areas of your life. You may be blaming your sadness on menopause when really it's your own reaction to getting older. Take a soul searching, honest look at how you feel about being middle aged. If you find yourself resisting or impatient you might need to rethink your view of what it means to be over forty. It's a time of life full of possibility, but not until you see it as such.

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