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Mood Swings and tips to cope

Podcast Episode 16 transcript.

Listen to Apple, Spotify, and our website - or wherever you get your podcasts!

Today, I’m going to talk about mood swings.

Around 40% of women have mood symptoms during menopause that are similar to premenstrual syndrome. Women describe irritability, low energy, difficulty concentrating, tearfulness, and moodiness. However, unlike Premenstrual Symptoms, menopausal mood swings are unpredictable and may occur at any time without a reason or pattern.

Menopause also hits us at a time when we are dealing with a lot of life pressures. You might juggle young or older children leaving for college or university, depending on your situation. You might be struggling with the loss of loved ones, going through separations and divorces, maintaining relationships with partners and friends, demanding jobs, making ends meet, or looking after ageing parents. Even exciting times like career progression or re-inventing yourself are stressful! Menopause also comes when we start noticing changes in our skin and how we look; in a way, it is a time when we begin to feel mortal and possibly think about ageing and a bit more about the future. These things might be happening all at once, and it’s normal to feel like we’re being pulled in every direction while we try to do our best, which sometimes doesn’t feel enough!

There is evidence linking hormonal swings to both anxiety and depression, Most women report various levels of anxiety symptoms, that in some cases, affect daily life. Symptoms include muscle tension, nausea or sweating.

Symptoms of depression include crying a lot, feeling hopeless or worthless, feeling numb, losing interest in activities and personal care, and isolating yourself.

If you are feeling this way, although there is a chance that your feelings could be related to menopause, please do not just assume it is; speak to someone. There are a lot of other causes for both anxiety and depression, especially if you’ve struggled with these symptoms throughout your life.

Here are some Coping strategies to help you with mood swings

  1. Awareness and acknowledging your feelings is important and is the first step towards empowering yourself to take action.

  2. Stop feeling guilty! Be kind to yourself! This is not your fault—stop apologising. Use this energy to do something positive for you. It’s okay to look after yourself!

  3. Seek help and support from people you can open yourself up to, such as family members or good friends. I would like to give a shout out to my friends; to me, you are the sisters I never had.

  4. Self-refer to talking therapies, which can be accessed for free on the NHS in the UK. Go and speak to your doctors; they can also refer you to other services in your area.

  5. Self-care is not a luxury - it is a necessity. Time spent looking after ourselves means the body and mind have time to recalibrate. Self-care can be going for a run, walk, or bath. Sitting silently for a few minutes, maybe listening to a relaxing podcast or music, also counts. Vary these activities, and schedule them into your routine. They are as important as going to a food shop or doing other chores!

  6. Eat food that actually nourishes both your brain and body. If your appetite is not the best at the moment, try to look at food as if it were medication.

  7. I heard someone describe motivation as non-existent because motivation is most often not there when you actually need it. Make little changes, a step at a time, and set yourself up for success. Trying to do too much too soon can put too much pressure on you.

  8. Last but not least, medication. The use of Antidepressants during menopause has been demonised over the past few years. I do believe that medication is there to use it when it is needed. Find a doctor you can talk to, one you can sit down with and make a plan. Depending on the severity of your mood swings and mental well-being symptoms, you might want to try HRT first and then review how you feel in a few weeks’ time, or you might opt to try antidepressants or have both HRT and antidepressants together. Remember, what works for others might not be right for you because you are unique. If what works for your friend does not work for you, you are not a failure - you are biologically different from anyone else. If you choose to try medication, whatever it is - please be aware that the other things we mentioned, like nutrition and self-care, will still be a very important part of your mental well-being plan.

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