During perimenopause, many women may experience changes in their mental health. Perimenopause means ‘around menopause,’ and it occurs when your body begins its natural transition to menopause, which typically occurs in women between the ages of 40 and 44 but can occur earlier.

This stage in your life may occur while you are dealing with a variety of other life changes, such as caring for teenagers, caring for elderly parents, working, and attempting to maintain your relationship with your partner. All of these factors, combined with a lack of sleep while dealing with menopause symptoms, can contribute to increased stress.

Menopause and its emotional impact should not be underestimated; unfortunately, the highest suicide rate in women occurs between the ages of 45 and 53, and over 60% of divorces in the UK are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

What types of feelings are common with menopause mood swings?

Lower levels of oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone as you approach menopause can have several effects on the brain that affect your mood, as listed below:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Increased anxiety
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss of confidence
  • Low mood and feelings of sadness or depression
  • Poor concentration – often described as ‘brain fog’

Your mood is most likely impacted further by sleep problems, which are very common in menopause, with night sweats interrupting your sleep, making you feel more irritable, and your ability to concentrate and anxiety worsening.

What can I do to even out my menopause mood swings?

Menopause can cause fatigue, lack of motivation, loss of confidence, anxiety, and low self-esteem. You can, however, take steps to improve your mood and lift your spirits. Here are some recommendations:

  • Rest. Try and keep a consistent bedtime routine in order to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. If you are being troubled by night sweats, ensure your bedroom is well aired and that bedding, and night clothes are made from natural fibres.
  • Exercise. Keeping a regular exercise routine (even if you only have time for a 15-minute walk in your lunch break) helps with our mental health and boosts our natural happy hormones (endorphins) in our bodies.
  • Eat for your mind.  Eat a well-balanced diet and reduce your intake of processed foods, fats, salts and sugars.
  • Mental stimulation. Reading, learning a new skill or language, or engaging in a hobby can all help lift our spirits by focusing our energy on a positive outlet for our emotions.
  • Avoid alcohol. Reduce alcohol consumption as this has a depressant effect on the brain.
  • Socialising with family and friends. They can offer you support and share your concerns.
  • Practise relaxation and mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply being aware. Knowing what is going on mentally, emotionally, and physically in each moment and then choosing how to respond rather than being at the mercy of knee-jerk reactions. You pause, even if only for a few moments, and choose to enter your body, breathe, and let everything settle. This activates the relaxing parasympathetic nervous system, slowing your heart rate and relieving muscle tension.
  • Think positive. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help by teaching you skills to combat negative thinking. It can help to improve menopausal symptoms such as depression, insomnia, and hot flushes.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).  It will help with your anxiety and low mood as well as your physical symptoms. HRT should be offered instead of antidepressant therapy to women experiencing new or worsening anxiety and depression during the perimenopause and menopause periods.

Speaking with a medical professional

If you want to talk about your symptoms and what treatments are available to you, then contact your GP for further information.

You can also visit these websites which have a wealth of information on menopause.

The stages of menopause explained white arrow
white arrow Your essential guide to understanding menopause and how you can help your partner, colleague, family, or friend navigate it!