5 things that can worsen your menopausal mood

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

16 March 2020

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about five things that can worsen your mood in the menopause.

So, this is Week 3 of our mood month, and I'm going to be looking at things in our everyday lives that can have an impact on how we feel.

1. Hormonal fluctuations

Unfortunately, in the menopause, our hormones don't fall gracefully as we go through the menopause. Especially at the beginning and in the peri-menopause, your hormones can go up and down.

So, there can be sudden hits of oestrogen, which will make you feel good. But you can also get very sudden dips, and it's these dips that can alter our mood very, very quickly. You can feel great one minute and think, "Oh, I'm having a lovely day." And, a minute later, you can feel that you're really down in the dumps. So, this is all to do with the falling hormones.

Our falling hormones also affect a compound in our brain called serotonin. And serotonin is very important for keeping our mood elevated. So, again, it's not only that our hormones are falling – if the levels of serotonin are falling correspondingly, then that can have quite a big effect on our mood, too.

2. Dehydration

Now, I talked about this in Week 1, but this is a really big one here. Studies have shown that dehydration, even a small amount of being dehydrated, can make us feel angry, can make us feel anxious, and can make us feel irritated.

So, a really good tip here: if you feel your mood plummeting, or you get angry, irritated or anxious at the same time every day, then there is a possibility that, at that point, you're getting dehydrated. So, remember to drink the water all through the day.

3. Certain foods and drinks

What can happen here is that foods that contain a lot of sugar, salt and caffeine (not only coffee but it can be tea and fizzy canned juices as well) can give your blood sugar levels a big hit. You feel good for a little while afterwards.

But your blood sugars then plummet and, again, it's that sudden drop in your blood sugar levels that would contribute to mood changes. So, very suddenly, you can find you're getting the low mood, you're getting the anxiety, and, if your blood sugar levels drop too low, then it could end up triggering some kind of panic attack, too.

The other thing that can affect our mood is our gut health. Remember, I talked about serotonin a minute ago. Serotonin is also produced in the digestive tract. And we actually call the digestive tract our second brain because of the level of serotonin there.

So, if you have poor digestion, if you find that you're getting bloating, if you're getting constipation, if you've been diagnosed as having things like IBS, then that will have a compounded effect on the serotonin levels. And that can affect your mood on a very, very regular basis.

4. Body changes

Our bodies do change in the menopause. And it can be quite distressing for us since, suddenly, we see our looks disappearing. If our weight starts to increase, if we find that we're sweating a lot, we get very self-conscious and may be embarrassed about sweating in public. Hair loss is a really big one, and that can have a huge effect on the way we feel about ourselves.

So, how we look can affect our self-esteem, it can affect our confidence. And the problem here is that falling oestrogen can affect our confidence and self-esteem, and that can have a big impact on our mood.

So, this one here can have a bit of a vicious circle. It can go on and on and vary between how we see ourselves and how we feel about ourselves during the menopause.

5. Multitasking

Who doesn't multitask on a regular basis? Most of us going through the menopause, we are really busy! We are having to contend with so many different things as well as all the physical changes that are going on in our body. The problem here is that if we are multitasking, we're often in a state of heightened awareness because we're having to think of so many different things at once.

And that alertness, if you like, and that state of being hyperaware also makes us more aware of what other people are saying and doing. It makes us more aware of what is going on in our environment, and it can make us more aware of other people's moods.

And all that, combined together (plus the stress of being busy the whole time!) will have a really big effect on our mood on a daily basis. And you may find that the busier you are, the more running around you have to do, the more caring that you have to do for other people, the more work that you have to do, you will find that there will be a corresponding decrease in your mood and also your ability to cope with these mood swings.

The other thing that can happen here is that if we're really busy, if we are really stressed, if we are anxious, that will burn up the vitamins and the minerals that we need to keep our mood balanced. And this is especially true of B vitamins and our magnesium. And for those of you that have been with me for a while, you know just how important magnesium is.

And, again, this can be another vicious circle. The busier we are, the more stressed we are, the more we burn magnesium and the more magnesium we need to help to keep our moods level. So, it's a good idea just to be aware of. Are you taking the daily magnesium supplement to help in this incidence? This could be helpful.

You know, it is amazing how many things in our daily life can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves and how we feel generally through the menopause. The other things that can affect mood are fatigue and sleep. And I will be talking about these two next week.

So, again, if any of you find things have made your mood worse or you've got lovely little tips to help to lift your mood, then please share them with us.

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