Menopause and irritability
Hot flashes, bad sleep, feeling blah… understandably, menopause can leave you feeling a little cranky. It’s also common to feel an increase in irritability and rage or anger, which are caused by the hormonal changes that happen at this time.
Irritability can show itself in several different ways. There is no strict medical definition but irritability generally means that you easily find yourself getting angry, annoyed, or impatient.
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SIGNS OF IRRITABILITY
Getting angry or annoyed quickly
Being snappy and impatient
Having a constant sense of tension
Certain sounds and sensations irritate
TIPS TO HELP WITH IRRITABILITY DURING MENOPAUSE
Check in with your healthcare provider
Menopause is just one of many possible causes of irritability. It is especially common in several mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder. Speak to your healthcare provider to ensure that you have the right diagnosis – especially as depression and anxiety become more common at menopause.
Take a look at your medications
If you have depression, anxiety, or another disorder that can contribute to irritability, ask your healthcare provider to check your medication. Would you benefit from a higher dose? Or a change in prescription?
It’s easier said than done, but stress can make your irritability worse. Think about the things that trigger your feelings of irritability. It may help to keep a log of your feelings and things that may help or hinder your mood.
Think about yoga and meditation
There is growing evidence that mind-body activities, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation, can help to reduce stress and enhance your mood at menopause.
Prioritize physical health
It’s easy to let it slide, especially when you feel overwhelmed. However, a healthy lifestyle can help to ease irritability. In particular, try to get some exercise, eat a balanced diet and cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
Can hormone therapy (HT) help?
HT is recommended for low mood at menopause, which often goes hand-in-hand with irritability. It is also thought to help with mood swings. Speak to your healthcare provider to find out if this could be an option for you. Non-hormonal treatments for menopause may also help, including antidepressants, which can help with some menopause symptoms.
We know that HT has a positive effect on the brain when it comes to the changes seen with menopause (including those which cause conditions related to irritability). Multiple studies have found that HT affects the parts of the brain responsible for regulating your mood.
This translates into real-world improvements too. Many studies have found that using HT can help to ease depression and mood symptoms in menopause, and HT is recommended as a treatment for low mood and mood swings at menopause.
This is not the full story. HT can be helpful but it is not always the best treatment for certain conditions which can be related to irritability, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Speak to your healthcare provider for personalized advice on the best treatment options for you.
It is also important to be aware that HT is not suitable for everyone. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you more about the best approach for you.