4 Reasons for Mood Swings in Women
When I typed the title for this article, I cringed a bit—but it is something I could see that people have been searching for. If you are a woman, you have to admit you can often detect something slightly derogatory in the tone of someone accusing you of suffering from “mood swings” (most often a man, right?).
Mood swings mean you’re unstable, you’re unreliable, and you’re weak-minded. Right…?
Wrong. People who believe that really have no idea what it’s like to be living inside a body which is subjected to the ups and downs of hormonal cycles, or the final ebbing of those cycles which takes place during menopause. Yeah, there are going to be days when your mood is all over the map. But that isn’t a statement on your character. And hey—you are the one who has to deal with it from inside your own skin. Finding a way to do that means you are strong-minded, stable and reliable.
Depending on the stage of life you are in—your menses, perimenopause, menopause, or postmenopause—there are many different possible reasons why your mood could be swinging wildly up and down. There are many forms that mood swings can take too. Anxiety, depression, and rage are probably the most commonly recognized manifestations of mood swings, but you may also experience bursts of mania and days when your libido goes into overdrive. All of these moods can make you feel like your body is dragging you on a wild ride.
What is actually going on in your body and mind to create these mood swings? Here are just a few possibilities:
1. PMS (and etcetera)
If you are still on your menses, you may notice a correlation between your mood and your cycles. I am emphasizing may for a very good reason. It is actually something of a cultural myth that PMS or periods make women moody. There are certainly some women who report a correlation, but fairly comprehensive review studies have indicated that there is no strong, provable link.
This goes back to what I was mentioning previously about a derogatory attitude. The entire notion that women are naturally subject to mood swings and that mood swings are a terrible thing is quite patriarchal. And as you can see, the evidence is pretty dodgy and limited.
Anyway, my reason for saying “etcetera” after PMS is that even if you do observe mood swings in conjunction with your cycle, there is no guaranteeing they will always be premenstrual! Some women may find they are always moodier during their period, or after it, or through some other phase of their cycle.
If you do experience period-related mood swings, they could have to do with the chemical shifts in your body—or they could be only indirectly associated with your cycle. For example, I tend to miss some sleep a couple of nights before my period. This naturally can make me moody. I also tend to get post-period migraines. These obviously can get me down as well.
2. Declining estrogen in menopause.
Are you in perimenopause or menopause? If so, don’t be surprised if you experience a whole slew of unwelcome moods. These probably are at least in part the direct result of the hormonal transformations your body is undergoing.
In menopause you experience a lot of hormonal swings up and down, but your estrogen levels are gradually declining. Clinical nurse specialist Jerilyn Hagan CNS writes:
“There’s some evidence that estrogen has some mood-enhancing benefits. So the decrease of this hormone may contribute to the mental health issues women experience during this period.”
3. Indirect effects of menopause.
You know how I just mentioned that my period can indirectly make me cranky by causing me to lose sleep or suffer from migraines? Well, something to that same effect can be said about menopause as well.
During menopause, you will likely be plagued by a plethora of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes
- Insomnia (often resulting at least in part from the hot flashes)
- Drop in libido
- Confusion, concentration problems and memory issues
None of these are any fun at all, and there is a good chance that you are dealing with all of them at once. That would be enough to make me moody for sure! Losing sleep in particular can have a destabilizing effect on your mood, causing you to feel anxious and depressed. If your bloke is constantly demanding to know why women have so many mood swings, you might politely remind him that he doesn’t have to go through all of that.
4. Related or unrelated life issues and changes.
Finally, it is worth it to remember that not all mood swings are the direct result of changes in your body. Sometimes they instead speak to changes in your life as a whole.
Those changes may or may not be related to going through menopause. An example of a related change would be realizing that you cannot have any children ever again unless you adopt. There is nothing “wrong” with that, but it is a massive life change, and it can be a difficult one to handle, especially if you have never been able to have a baby and always wanted one.
An unrelated life issue might be something like the loss of a job, difficulties with a relationship, or the realization that you want to take a different path with your life altogether. You could have an unrelated health issue or you could lose a close friend or family member. The point is that you cannot ignore these problems and refuse to deal with them, blaming your mood swings entirely on menopause. The depression and anxiety from these situations will follow you after menopause.
Tips for Managing Your Moods
Whether your mood swings are related to your menses, menopause, or some other issue altogether, here are a few tips which may help you to get your mindset back in balance:
1. Balance your hormones naturally and safely with supplements.
There was a time when it was simply a given that doctors would prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women undergoing menopause. While this may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause, it is not without health risks.
For this reason, it is a much wiser option to stick with safe, natural, gentle methods for balancing your hormones. You can stimulate your body’s natural production by taking herbal supplements instead of injecting hormones into your body. Herbs like Black Cohosh, Magnolia Bark, and Ashwagandha Extract can help to reduce hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and other symptoms of menopause. This eases you through the transition without putting your long-term health on the line.
Recommended Reading: 7 Herbs for Female Hormone Balance in Menopause
While you are at it, be sure to eat a balanced, varied, nutritious diet with all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs for optimum health now and over the years to come. In particular, boosting your omega-3 fatty acid intake may improve your mood.
2. Resolve other problems in your life.
If something else is wrong in your life, you will not resolve it by hiding. If your relationship is on the rocks, it is time to talk to your partner and work out your differences. If you have problems at work, you will need to find a way to solve them. If there is something you have always wanted to do with your life which you still haven’t attempted, it is time to embark on a new journey. The more regrets you live with, the harder it will be for you to find happiness.
3. Use CBT, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, and other approaches to treat anxiety and depression.
To some extent, mood swings are something you may just have to live with. They could be a temporary symptom of menopause, or they may be a long-term or recurring hassle.
Either way, there is a lot you can do to try and manage your depression, anxiety, rage, and mania. Techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation, and exercise can help.
If you already are practicing these methods and only getting sub-par results, it may have something to do with your approach. What many people do not realize is that the “how” is as important—or more important—than the “what.” You need to take a very disciplined, structured, and organized approach. The discipline itself is a large part of what will help you to rewire your brain.
Conclusion: Mood Swings Are No Fun, But They Are Manageable
If you are a woman suffering from mood swings, they could have something to do with menopause or monthly cycles—or they might be unrelated. Remember, a great deal rests in perception as well, and the way that other people see you may not be entirely accurate. Many men read into “female issues” without realizing that many of their conclusions are not scientifically supported. These fallacious cultural messages and standards do nothing to help with whatever issues you may actually have.
Make your own judgments about your psychological and physical health. If you are unhappy with your moods, then it is time to do something about them. If you believe your hormones are playing a role, try herbal supplementation. Exercise more, learn to relax, and look into therapy if you need it. If there are areas of your life where you know you could make improvements to be happier, challenge yourself to step up and do the work.