Sound familiar? If you’re anything like many women, being unable to stop crying—or worse, raging—over something you know doesn’t warrant such a response has turned out to be another (delightful) hallmark of perimenopause.
At first, these episodes could be chalked up to work stress or the weather or that second glass of Bordeaux. But when the mood swings start happening a little too frequently—and unpredictably—for most women's comfort, that's when they decide to do some research.
Turns out the same hormone fluctuations that contribute to hot flashes and night sweats can cause pretty significant shifts in emotions as well. That’s largely because the hormone estrogen can act as a neurotransmitter, triggering depression-like symptoms as it drops and then rises again during perimenopause. But take heart: as hormone levels flatten out after menopause, these ups and downs tend to lessen as well. In the meantime, be sure to stay active: exercise boosts feel-good endorphins as well as the mood-regulating hormone serotonin—giving you a natural high that can help buoy you throughout the day.
If symptoms are interfering with your daily life, talk to your healthcare provider; some studies have found hormone replacement therapy, particularly the combo HRT patch (which contains estrogen and progesterone), can help mitigate emotional highs and lows. And if you'd rather not take hormones, estrogen-free solutions like dietary supplements can help address mood swings as well.
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