During the menopause, our emotional pendulums can swing from raging Hulk to crying mess in a very short space of time.
We can experience a heightened sense of sadness, nervousness, aggression, impatience and irritability among other things. It can sometimes seem as if we are completely unable to control our emotions. In my case, I developed a very short fuse. I would be fine and then something small would just completely set me off. I was snappy, irritable and generally not very pleasant to be around.
Fast forward a few hours and my anger was replaced by an absolutely crippling feeling of anxiety and impending doom.
I remember waking up one morning and going into the kitchen to find that my daughter hadn’t loaded a cup into the dishwasher. Now, my daughter is a teenager and we all know what teenagers can sometimes be like so it shouldn’t have been a huge issue; at least nothing that a kind but firm reminder wouldn’t have fixed. But instead of looking at it rationally, I charged up the stairs, burst into her room, woke the poor child out of her sleep and shouted at the top of my lungs. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a reflection in the mirror of this person going completely crazy and to my great surprise that person was me! When I’d calmed down a little bit my daughter asked me, “Mum, why are you always so angry?”. That really hit me as I’m naturally not that kind of person.
…the scariest part was that I couldn’t really explain what was happening to me or why I was losing my emotional control.
Fast forward a few hours and my anger was replaced by an absolutely crippling feeling of anxiety and impending doom. I’ve spoken about anxiety before and you can read more about my experience and tips for coping here. I was literally curled up in a ball feeling completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with life. I felt so far away from who I really am. It was as if that life-loving, fairly confident person had disappeared without a trace. And the scariest part was that I couldn’t really explain what was happening to me or why I was losing my emotional control. As I’ve said before, I went to my GP and he handed me a course of anti-depressants and sent me on my way. I took them for two weeks and there was no change.
During the whole time that I was taking the tablets, I couldn’t shake the thought that this was something other than depression. So I did my research and came across an article online that linked anxiety to the menopause. The article also mentioned that the mood swings were caused by the decreasing levels of hormones in our bodies. I read further and all my other symptoms were there including night sweats, tender breasts, weight gain, dry and itchy skin, joint pain and memory fog. It was only then that I went back to my GP, armed with my information and a new found sense of purpose, and was finally given the option of a blood test.
My Top Tips
After I had lost my temper or said something out of anger I always felt awful and I would end up spending the rest of the day feeling terrible. The best thing to do is to talk to your loved ones about how you are feeling, even if at this point you don’t know exactly what is causing the problem. It’s vital to talk it through with your nearest and dearest so that they can understand what is happening. You could start by explaining that you’re not sure exactly why but you’re not quite feeling yourself. Ask them for patience and understanding and chances are they will support you while you find out what is happening.
Look at your diet
A diet made up of sugary foods and caffeine can have a very negative effect on your moods. High sugar foods and caffeine cause the body to feel a rush of energy. But what goes up must come down and the post-high crash will do little to help your mood swings.
This is the last thing you want to do if you are feeling low but the burst of serotonin levels in the brain caused by even a small amount of exercise can really improve your mood.
HRT & Hormone Therapy
For me, this was the most effective treatment for my symptoms. HRT balanced my hormone levels and after only a few weeks I started to feel like me again. Remember though, that HRT may not necessarily be the best treatment for YOU so do your research and speak with your GP or another qualified medical professional before deciding on a course of treatment.