Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Your Brain on Menopause

Hormone surges and dips throughout menopause affect your brain as well as the rest of your body. Here's what happens and why, and how to cope.

Menopausal Mood Swings: What to Do

The very first thing you must realize is that no, you're not losing your mind. You may be acting crazy, feeling crazy, thinking crazy thoughts -- but basically, you're OK. And no, you don't have to force yourself to sit on the "naughty stool" until perimenopause is over.

But there are a few key things you can try that might make a huge difference. Among the most important: Reduce stress in your life.

How can this help? According to Harvard University stress expert Alice Domar, PhD, the effect of stress on hormone activity can be so profound that it is capable of inducing symptoms. Reducing stress can have the opposite effect.

In studies she conducted, Domar reports that women who participated in organized relaxation saw a 30% decrease in their hot flashes, plus a significant drop in tension, anxiety, even depression. They also reported fewer mood swings and more stable emotions overall.

The good news: Reducing even small stresses in your life -- or simply setting aside some time every day to relax and unwind -- can not only affect hormone balance but have a dramatic effect on your mood swings.

Another important suggestion: Whenever you do have an emotional upset, such as feeling very angry, step back, take a deep breath, and let a little time pass before you act on your dancing emotions. Chances are, when the mood swing passes -- as it always does -- you might not have the need to lash out at someone who probably doesn't deserve it.

At the same time, if the mood passes and you still feel the same way, then by all means do what you must to clear the air. While many problems can temporarily seem bigger than they are during this time of life, real problems can also occur. But taking a little time between action and reaction may be all you need to know the difference.

Sleep Your Way to Happier Menopause

While hormones influence your mood and your temper, what can make everything seem worse is a lack of sleep. And if getting a good night's rest seems to be getting harder during this time of life, you're not alone.

A study published in the journal Menopause in 2001 observed that "insomnia is a frequently reported complaint in menopausal women."

The reason: You may be sleeping - or wanting to sleep -- but your estrogen levels are still up dancing all night long. And that continual action can interrupt healthy sleep.

This, in turn, reduces both the quantity and quality of your sleep, and when that happens hormones can go further off kilter, filling your waking hours with even more symptoms, particularly emotion-based problems.

But there are ways to induce better midlife sleep and in doing so help control some menopause symptoms. According to natural health expert Susan Lark, MD, herb teas of valerian root taken 45 minutes before bedtime might induce a deeper and more restful sleep. Passionflower or chamomile tea may have a similar effect, she says.

Today on WebMD

Menopause Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
senior woman
Article
 
Woman standing with fan in face
Video
senior woman taking a pill
Article
 
senior couple
Video
mature woman shopping for produce
Article
 
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
Article
mature couple on boat
Article
 
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
Slideshow
senior woman wearing green hat
Article
 
mature woman
Article
supplements
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections