Complete Symptom Guide to Menopause Mood swings | Stella

Menopause and mood swings


Menopause can be a difficult time, especially when it comes to your mood. One minute you feel like everything is under control, and then you are suddenly hit by a wave of anger, anxiety, or sadness.

Mood swings are a common and sometimes disabling symptom of menopause. Read on to discover more about why it happens and what you can do about it.


Mood swings are sudden and noticeable changes in the way you feel. You may notice that you are suddenly irritable, frustrated, angry, or sad and that it can be difficult to predict when or why your mood will change.

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Mood swings are a common part of menopause. Several studies have researched how common mood swings are in menopause, although the results have been highly variable.

A Norwegian study found that 10% with menopausal symptoms reported mood swings and another study found that the risk for high depressive symptoms and disorder is greater during and possibly after the menopausal transition.

This demonstrates that mood swings can be difficult to understand and quantify. There is likely to be a reasonable amount of cultural and biological variation in the way we talk about and tolerate mood swings.


Sudden or dramatic mood changes

Feeling irritable or snappy. PMS can worsen in perimenopause when you are still having periods

Crying easily, panic attacks, or feeling overwhelmingly anxious

Uncontrollable anger (rage)


Speak to your healthcare provider

Mood swings can be a normal (if difficult) part of menopause, but they can be part of a bigger mental health problem. Anxiety and depression can show themselves as panic attacks, irritability, and crying. Likewise, bipolar disorder can also be linked to dramatic shifts in mood. If mood swings are affecting you, check in with your healthcare provider to be sure you have the right diagnosis.

Get some exercise

Exercise has many benefits for your general health. One study has also suggested that it could help reduce mood swings related to menopause.

Think about triggers

Have you noticed anything which makes your mood swings worse? A stressful day at work, or feeling overwhelmed with chores at home? Consider keeping a log of your symptoms to help you reflect on what triggers you and help you avoid a mood swing. Some studies suggest that moderate to heavy drinking may be associated with worse menopausal symptoms including mood swings. 

Try mindfulness

Mindfulness is helpful in a range of mental health conditions and may help with menopausal mood swings. There is also some evidence that mind-body approaches (like yoga and tai chi) can help with menopausal symptoms.

Talk about it

Menopausal mood swings can cause friction between yourself and your family, friends, and colleagues. If this is the case, try to find a quiet time to calmly discuss what is happening. If you feel that mood swings are seriously affecting your relationships, see your healthcare provider for professional advice.

Can hormone therapy (HT) help?

Possibly. HT is thought to help mood swings at menopause, and it can be prescribed for low mood associated with menopause. 

Likewise, HT is a proven treatment for many other physical symptoms which may – if severe and untreated – have an understandable impact on your mood. For example, it is very difficult to keep a level head if your life is ruled by hot flashes and you’re struggling to sleep! HT can effectively treat several symptoms associated with menopause including hot flashes and sleep disturbance among others. 

While it can be very helpful, HT is not suitable for everybody. Your healthcare provider will be able to advise you about your personal treatment options. Read more on the risks and benefits of HT.


Debate is ongoing as to whether hormone changes directly cause mood swings to occur or mood swings occur as a consequence of physical symptoms of menopause (because who doesn’t feel irritable or snippy when they are feeling bad physically?) It is likely to be a mixture of the two.

Estrogen has effects on many different organs and tissues throughout the body. It also interacts with a number of different hormones which regulate mood and emotion, including serotonin

When estrogen levels plummet at the time of menopause, it is thought that serotonin function also suffers. This could be responsible for the common mood changes – including mood swings – seen at menopause.

Other hormones may also be affected. These include noradrenaline, which works in a similar way to serotonin, and cortisol, which is released in response to stress.

See your healthcare provider if mood swings are becoming a struggle. You may notice that your mood swings are getting you down, or that you are finding it more difficult to get on with your normal life. 

Seek urgent medical assistance if you have:

  • Any thoughts about suicide 
  • Thoughts about hurting yourself or others
  • Any symptoms of depression
  • Any symptoms of a manic episode
  • Any symptoms of psychosis
  • Any other serious concerns


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Dealing with hyperventilating, sobbing and early menopause. Read more

How mindfulness can help ease anxiety.
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Tracking your symptoms to manage menopause. Read more

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