5 Ways to Even Out Menopause Mood Swings
Posted 1/17/2017 by UHBlog
If rainy days and Mondays always make you blue, just imagine what menopause mood swings can do.
“The fluctuating hormonal changes going on in a woman’s body during menopause are responsible for roller coaster mood swings,” says psychologist Danette Conklin PhD. “During menopause, women can experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, memory lapses, weight gain and anxiety.”
Menopause, which typically occurs between the ages of 48 and 55, is defined as the stage in a woman’s life when she stops having her monthly period. It's a normal part of aging and marks the end of her reproductive years.
Dr. Conklin offers five ways to ease change-of-life symptoms and keep your emotions and moods on a more even keel.
- Revamp your diet. “Due to the slowing of the metabolism during menopause, it’s helpful to see a dietitian to develop a sensible eating plan, particularly if a woman is prone to stress eating,” says Dr. Conklin. “Extra weight gain during menopause can negatively affect mood, increase hot flash frequency and lower a woman’s self-esteem.”
Dr. Conklin recommends a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and lots of water. Smaller, healthier meals can also keep energy and mood levels up. Mood-crashing foods to avoid are highly processed foods, sugary treats and excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
- Make exercise a priority. “Regular physical activity – like walking, swimming, biking, cycling or working out at a gym – is important for women going through menopause,” she says. “Exercise can keep you socially and physically active and help with memory loss, sleep problems and depression.”
An exercise routine also serves as a much needed stress buster, strengthens bones, prevents weight gain and improves overall well-being.
“When you exercise, your body releases mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins, which elevate your mood and improve sleep,” Dr. Conklin says.
- Reduce your stress. “Many menopausal women, particularly those in the sandwich generation who are taking care of children and their aging parents, feel overwhelmed when they try to please everyone else,” she says. “When this happens, women have no time or energy left for themselves. To reduce this stressful burden, women have to learn it's okay to take care of their own needs first. And it's also okay to say no when they can’t cope with the extra demands put on them.”
Some stress-reducing techniques recommended by Dr. Conklin are deep breathing exercises, stretching to relieve muscle tension, mindful meditation, yoga, spending quality time alone and/or talking to a good friend or partner.
- Join a menopause discussion group. “A support group allows women to openly discuss their menopausal symptoms and realize they're not alone or going crazy,” Dr. Conklin says. “Sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one experiencing mood swings can make you feel better.”
University Hospitals offers several menopause discussion groups, as well as a menopause clinic, at University Hospitals Landerbrook Center. Women in the group discuss topics such as the physical and emotional changes associated with menopause, relationship concerns and health issues related to midlife transition.
- Talk to a doctor. If your menopausal symptoms are so debilitating that you can't function effectively, talk to a medical professional like those found at University Hospitals Midlife Wellness for Women Center.
“No woman needs to suffer in silence when she is going through menopause," Dr. Conklin says. "We can provide kind and compassionate care during this difficult time.”
Currently, Dr. Conklin is conducting a research study on effective ways to manage midlife issues without medication. If you’re interested in learning more about or being part of this study, call 216-844-2862. To qualify, you must be:
- An African American or Caucasian woman between the ages of 45 and 60 who has bipolar disorder or depression, is having hot flashes and night sweats regularly and is not using hormone therapy.
- Available to attend six group sessions, plus an initial evaluation.
Danette Conklin, PhD is a psychologist and director, Midlife Wellness for Women at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Conklin or any other doctor online.