Menopause is inevitable, and it is associated with many well-known symptoms, but the emotional roller coaster that often accompanies it is less discussed. Estrogen affects the brain, which can influence mood and emotions, and the decline of this essential hormone during the stages of menopause can affect various neurotransmitters that regulate emotions. What are some coping strategies to help women transition through menopause with their emotions primarily intact?
The Link Between Menopause and Mood Swings
It’s worth repeating: estrogen plays a significant role in influencing multiple neurological processes, and its decline affects several receptors in the brain. What does this mean? It means that women are not just being ‘moody.’ The brain is working to adjust to the changes in hormones. It is a profound physiological change that women cannot control.
Estrogen plays a crucial role in regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, a chemical in the brain that helps balance emotion. We know it as the ‘feel good’ brain messenger that brings about happiness. An imbalance in serotonin is linked to conditions including depression and anxiety. So, it is easy to understand how estrogen loss can affect emotional balance.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt throughout life, and estrogen acts as a shield. It helps in the growth and connection of nerve cells in specific parts of the brain. This can affect how the brain adjusts and reacts to different situations, possibly impacting the regulation of our moods.
Menopause often brings about sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and night sweats. The resulting sleep deprivation can contribute significantly to mood swings. Lack of quality sleep affects cognitive function and emotional resilience, making women more susceptible to mood fluctuations.
Changes in Brain Chemistry
Estrogen receptors, which are responsible for mood regulation, are present in various brain areas. The decline in estrogen levels can alter the brain’s chemistry, affecting emotional responses and exacerbating mood swings. Additionally, hormonal changes can impact the stress response system, making women more vulnerable to stressors.
Several other hormonal changes during menopause can mess with the brain. Night sweats, for example, disrupt sleep, which causes a break in sleep cycles that affects brain health. So, don’t blame yourself for the mood swings – it’s not you, it’s the impact of menopause on your brain. The good news is there are ways to manage the emotional ups and downs.
Coping Strategies for Menopausal Mood Swings
Physical and emotional well-being is crucial during menopause. Exercise promotes releasing those ‘feel good’ chemicals, endorphins, which act as the body’s natural mood enhancers. Additional steps you can take include:
Yes, put yourself first. Self-care is intentional and different for each woman. It’s doing something that brings about physical, mental, and emotional peace. Examples of self-care may be a long, slow walk in the park, a yoga class, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy. Some find relaxation from a hot bath, while others are more relaxed through physical exercise. Even dedicating 10 minutes daily to yourself can still have positive effects, especially when used with intention and focus.
Diet and Exercise
Diet plays a significant role in mental health. The foods we consume can have short-term and long-term effects on our mental well-being. Avoid sugar-laden foods and caffeine, which can cause short-term highs led by low crashes. The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent example of foods that boost brain health, including the occasional red wine glass.
Menopause can be an isolating experience. Share your journey with friends, family, or a support group. Connecting with others who are going through similar challenges can provide a sense of solidarity and understanding. Open communication with loved ones can also foster a supportive environment.
For some women, hormone replacement therapy may be a viable option to alleviate severe symptoms, including mood swings. PearlPAK from CleopatraRX™ is unlike other HRTs in that it was designed to prevent cognitive decline during menopause. It combines estriol and progesterone to replenish the body with these essential hormones, boosting brain health while minimizing other common symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats.
If you are going through menopause and on the receiving end of fluctuating emotions, be kind to yourself. When mood swings become unmanageable or are resulting in deep depression, seek support from a physician or qualified medical practitioner.
At CleopatraRX, we are on a mission to prevent cognitive decline during menopause. Contact us today to learn more about PearlPAK and to determine if it may be right for you.