Crazy funny housewifeOne of the most disconcerting and distressing symptoms of hormonal change as women get older is mood swings. One minute you’re Ms Cool, and the next you’ve morphed into Ms Crazy, the female version of Dr Jekyll, screaming at the kids, your partner, your best friend or a work colleague. Or you might suddenly be crying uncontrollably or feel completely overwhelmed. The constant switch between moods can leave you feeling like you’re going crazy

If you’re between 35 and 55 it could be perimenopausal rage (perimenopause is the phase, usually two to 10 years, leading up to menopause, but more about that in a future blog post!). These completely unexpected and uncharacteristic outbursts tend to occur in the two weeks before your period. They seem to come from nowhere which is what makes them so upsetting and frightening, and are characterised by a far stronger reaction (or more accurately, an overreaction) to something than is normal for you. You say things you can’t unsay, and most times you blow up over something you’d usually consider small and inconsequential.

Hormonal imbalance is often to blame for mood swings and other perimenopausal symptoms. As we get older our hormones can easily get out of balance causing a range of symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, stress but also insomnia, hot flushes, night sweats etc. We’re sensitive to changes and when the delicate balance between estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, xxxxxx is out of kilter it can set off these unpleasant and unexpected outbursts of anger.  It’s often women who experience bad PMS who can have the worst perimenopausal symptoms – and those who have experienced post-natal depression.

So, what can you do about it?

Knowing that what’s happening is normal is helpful, although it may not seem like it at the time.  Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally can go a long way to helping you manage and reduce the severity of mood swings and other symptoms. We’ll look further into lifestyle changes in future posts but for now, one of the best things you can do is to cut out sugar, alcohol and caffeine: I know! You probably rely on them to help you through the craziness, but they can all exaggerate symptoms – or at least try cutting down to see if you notice a difference. Sugar is a definite trigger for me. I tend to only have it when I go out and often notice I’m becoming withdrawn, then irritable.

Stress can be a risk factor for mood swings, so finding ways to manage it is important. That may feel easier said than done when your moods are all over the place but find what works for you, and make it a priority in your life because self-care is vital. Do whatever you need to do to feel better; for example, taking Epson salts baths, having a regular massage, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and using essential oils.

A wellness coach can help you make sense of what’s happening to you, and help you set and achieve realistic and sustainable changes to your lifestyle including nutrition, physical activity, stress management, better sleep and ensuring you have time for self-care and nurture.  And if lifestyle changes aren’t enough on your own you can enlist the help of health professionals such as a naturopath, or a supportive GP (an integrative medicine GP supports both traditional and complementary medicine). Research shows that when people have a team of health professionals supporting them they make progress more quickly, and are better able to sustain the changes than when they work with just one person.