Women's Health

Menopause: Mood Swings and Depression


Women approaching or in menopause are subject to mood swings and increased irritability. Typically, this occurs as a result of radical hormone fluctuations.

Some menopausal women also suffer from depression, the reasons for this are not completely clear but it is believed that the lack of estrogen affects the amount of brain neurotransmitters responsible for prevention of depression. When the neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine are decreased, the risk for depression increases.

Women in menopause may need to take prescription anti-depressants in order to control depressive symptoms. These include many of the SSRI anti-depressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which increase the levels of serotonin in the brain and decrease depressive symptoms.

Some of these include Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Wellbutrin. Technically, Wellbutrin is a SNRI anti-depressant, which means it increases both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Some women have more anxiety than depression in menopause. Doctors can prescribe short courses of anti-anxiety medications to relieve these uncomfortable symptoms. Anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan.


Natural Mood Lift


There are numerous natural remedies for mood swings. Some of them include the following:

  • Make sure you eat a diet with healthy foods in it. Avoid processed foods and foods containing things like sugar, salt, and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Eat smaller portions. If you get food cravings, try eating a small snack instead of loading up on unhealthy foods.
  • Take in at least five portions of vegetables per day and at least 2 servings of fruit per day. Eat foods that are high in color as these contain healthful phytonutrients that can improve your mood and cognitive function.
  • Eat organic foods whenever they are available. Try to avoid foods that may contain hormones, pesticides, herbicides, and food preservatives.
  • When eating fruits, stick to the whole fruits instead of the juice of the fruit. Whole fruits contain fiber, which are good for your bowels.
  • Decrease your intake of caffeine. This means eating less caffeine-containing sodas, black tea, and coffee.
  • Instead of black tea, switch to healthier green tea or purified water to avoid caffeine intake.
  • Eat as many berries as you can. They contain healthful antioxidants, which scavenge for oxygen free radicals and can improve the way your brain works.
  • Eat more canola oil and olive oil and stay away from saturated fats (found in meats and dairy products) and trans fats, found in processed foods.
  • Eat foods that are high in vitamin C, including citrus fruits, red peppers, and spinach. These contain antioxidants that can increase the dryness of your skin and can cause wrinkling.
  • Increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. You can find omega 3 fatty acids by eating higher amounts of canola oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and fatty fish.
  • Eat foods high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. You can increase the anti-inflammatory effect by adding turmeric, cayenne pepper, garlic, and rosemary to the foods you eat.


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  • Get more exercise. You can do this by increasing the amount of walking you do, by cycling, swimming, or engaging in any exercise that gets your heart rate going and increases your respiratory rate.
  • Stop smoking. Women who smoke often have worse menopausal symptoms when compared to women who do not smoke and will get their menopausal symptoms 2 years earlier than those who don’t smoke.
  • Avoid perfumes as these can disrupt the balance of chemicals in your body.
  • Engage in stress-relieving activities. This can mean enjoying a hobby or taking the time to read a book.
  • De-clutter your life so you have fewer things to be stressed out over.
  • Try meditation, massage therapy, qi gong, yoga, or tai chi to reduce the perception of stress in your life.
  • Try herbal therapy. A practitioner in Traditional Chinese Medicine is trained in the herbs that can reduce menopausal symptoms and can guide you to the right herbs to take, such as black cohosh.
  • Try taking bioidentical hormones. These are estrogen and progesterone usually rubbed into the skin, and are identical in chemistry to the actual hormones you’ll find in your body. Some practitioners say that these are safer to take than chemically manufactured hormones.
  • Support your adrenal glands by taking vitamins that support the glands. Your adrenal glands also make some reproductive hormones so, if they are supported, you will have fewer symptoms of hot flashes, and night sweats.



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