During perimenopause (the build-up to menopause), the delicate hormonal balance in your body begins to shift.
Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone can bring on a whole host of physical and psychological symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and mood swings.
It’s not unusual for your moods to shift from sadness to anger and even rage, all in the space of an hour or two. And even the most laid-back ladies aren’t immune to these emotional episodes.
Mood swings and menopause rage are difficult symptoms to deal with by your partner, family members, and friends as well as for you.
Keep reading to take a deep dive into menopause fuelled rage as we examine why it happens and what you can do to manage it.
What is Menopause Rage?
Menopause rage is often called perimenopause rage. That’s because it’s most common during the build-up to menopause when hormone levels are in a state of constant change.
Perimenopause rage is characterized by angry outbursts that are disproportionate to the situation. These outbursts are more intense than your usual level of anger and are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control.
Perimenopause rage can come seemingly out of nowhere. One moment, you might be feeling fine, and the next, you’re seeing red. And these explosive episodes can pass as quickly as they come. After a few minutes of fury, it’s not unusual for rage to spontaneously resolve itself and feelings of calm to return.
What Causes Menopause Rage?
Feelings of rage during perimenopause can be disturbing, to say the least. But don’t worry; you’re not losing your mind. Your fluctuating moods and angry outbursts are caused by major hormonal shifts happening in your body.
During the build-up to menopause, your estrogen levels fluctuate and slowly begin to decrease. Estrogen is one of the hormones that regulate your monthly cycle, but it also plays a crucial role in many other chemical processes.
One of estrogen’s roles is to maintain neurotransmitters in the brain, including the so-called ‘happiness hormone,’ serotonin. When estrogen levels are optimal, serotonin regulates your mood. This makes you feel happy and relaxed. But when estrogen levels suddenly plummet during perimenopause, this delicate balance is thrown off kilter. Serotonin levels also drop off, and the chances of depression, mood swings, and rage all increase.
Another cause of perimenopausal rage is estrogen dominance. We have two major reproductive hormones at work in our bodies; estrogen and progesterone. As estrogen decreases during perimenopause, so does progesterone. If progesterone levels take a sudden dip, estrogen can become the dominant hormone. Estrogen dominance leads to feelings of irritability, depression, anger, and even rage.
Thankfully, over time, your body will adjust to these hormonal shifts, and serotonin production will become more regulated. But while your menstrual cycle is still active during the build-up to menopause, expect the erratic emotions to continue for a while.
10 Ways to Deal With Menopause Rage
Menopause-related rage isn’t an easy symptom to live with. It can affect you and your relationships with those you love the most. So, it’s important to manage your angry outbursts and find peace with yourself and others.
Below are 10 tips to help you through the emotional rollercoaster of menopause rage.
1. Acknowledge Your Anger
Burying your feelings and suppressing your anger may feel like the right thing to do. But keeping a lid on these natural emotions can have much greater and more explosive consequences down the line.
So, permit yourself to be angry. Then, find a way to express your anger that doesn’t hurt yourself or others. For example, go for a run, attend a high-intensity exercise class, write in a journal, or go for a walk in nature alone.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
Fluctuating hormones can amplify our emotions to an extreme level. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a right to feel them in the first place.
Sometimes, menopausal women are misunderstood. We might be labeled as hormonal when our response to a situation is completely natural and called for.
But it’s important to be honest with ourselves in emotionally fuelled situations. So, the next time you feel the bubbles of rage rising up when someone cuts you off in traffic, take a beat. Ask yourself, is my response proportionate to the situation? Does the person on the receiving end of my rage truly deserve my reaction?
Remind yourself that your emotions are amplified right now, and you won’t always feel this way. By pausing and recalibrating for a moment, you’ll be more likely to handle the situation in a way that you can feel proud of.
3. Keep a Journal
Certain habits and lifestyle factors can make a big difference to your moods. For example, getting less sleep, not drinking enough water, or eating sugary foods. These things can all make you more likely to fly off the handle at inappropriate times.
Keeping a journal of your feelings, and noting any bouts of rage can help you to track your triggers. Record what you ate, how long you slept, what activities you did, and your overall emotional state each day. Before long, you’ll have enough information to see what factors bring on bouts of rage for you. Then, you can take steps to avoid them.
4. Practice Meditation or Yoga
Mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga are proven to lower stress levels and help you deal with feelings of frustration, anger, or rage. When done regularly, meditation and yoga can help you to feel more grounded and at ease in your life. Your hormones will still lead to heightened emotions, but the way you respond will be different.
These types of mind-body therapies also help with several other symptoms of perimenopause, including hot flashes and insomnia.
5. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise isn’t just great for your body. It can help to boost your mood and calm your mind. When you get your heart pumping with an aerobic workout, the brain produces additional serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings of pleasure and emotional regulation.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, perimenopausal women should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Examples of moderate exercise include swimming, jogging, cycling, or playing tennis. Alternatively, if you’re short on time, aim for 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, such as running, spinning, or cross fit.
6. Eat a Balanced Diet
What you put in your body has a direct impact on your physical and mental health. By strategically eating certain foods and avoiding others, you can help to balance the hormones responsible for mood swings and menopause rage.
Studies show that excess sugar can contribute to depression, mood swings, and feelings of rage. One way it does this is by disrupting the body’s natural dopamine levels.
And it’s not just sugar itself that’s to blame. Simple carbohydrates, such as cakes, pastries, white bread, white rice, and pasta, are converted into glucose by the body. So, they effectively turn into sugar once we consume them.
So, instead of a sugar and carb-heavy diet, focus on choosing foods with a low glycemic index,
Also, consider adding foods rich in phytoestrogens to your diet. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring compounds found in plants that mimic the estrogen produced by the body.
So, consuming phytoestrogens regularly can help to rebalance your hormones. This is an effective way to reduce many of the symptoms of perimenopause, including mood swings and rage.
Phytoestrogens are found in a wide variety of foods, including soybeans and soy products, chickpeas, flaxseeds, and several types of fruits and vegetables.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
Staying well-hydrated is important at all stages of life. But during perimenopause, it’s more crucial than ever.
Estrogen prompts our body to retain water, keeping fluid in our tissues. This is one of the reasons that many women notice bloating around the time of their period.
But when estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, the body’s ability to hold onto fluids diminishes. So, you may find you have to drink more water than before to keep your levels topped up.
Dehydration is often tough to spot at first. You may not even feel particularly thirsty. But irritability, low mood, and confusion are all early warning signs. So, make sure you get the recommended 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids each day to keep your mood stable and your organs functioning as they should.
8. Get Plenty of Sleep
Experts recommend that women get a minimum of 7 hours of good quality sleep per night.
For most people, anything less than this will have adverse effects on their physical and mental well-being.
Sleep deprivation leads to mood changes like irritability and rage. It also impacts our ability to think clearly, and practice techniques that can help us stay calm.
So, make getting a good night’s sleep a priority each night. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.
If you’re struggling with menopause-related insomnia, speak to your doctor. They can suggest certain therapies and medications which can help.
9. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that teaches you healthier ways to deal with challenging and fluctuating emotions. It can help with various psychological symptoms of menopause, including mood swings and rage.
During a course of CBT, you’ll work with your therapist to identify negative thought patterns and behaviors. You’ll then shift them to a more positive approach.
CBT can provide results in a relatively short period of time. Many people feel calmer, happier, and more grounded after just four to six sessions.
10. Consider Medication
If menopause rage is taking its toll on you and your relationships, consider talking to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
HRT balances the hormones which contribute to your mood swings and rage. It can also help with physical symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats.
But keep in mind that HRT comes with the risk of potentially serious side effects. So, it’s not suitable for everyone. Talk to your doctor to find out if you could be a suitable candidate.
Alternative medications are also available. Birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to help balance hormones and relieve the symptoms of perimenopause rage. And in some instances, your doctor may suggest an antidepressant to help temporarily stabilize your moods.
Any woman going through perimenopause can experience mood swings and episodes of rage. Even the calmest and most rational among us aren’t immune.
However, there are certain risk factors that increase the chances of angry outbursts. These include:
A history of mental illness
A history of severe PMS symptoms
A history of postnatal depression
If you’re currently taking HRT medications and you’re struggling with mood swings and rage, speak to your doctor. There are many different forms of HRT, and finding the right one for you can take time. Your doctor may want to switch you to a different brand or dosage. A simple shift could improve your mood and reduce the frequency and severity of your rage.
Menopause rage tends to strike during perimenopause, the time before your periods stop completely. This is when most of the troubling symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, are at their peak.
Usually, women notice that most of their symptoms begin to taper off once they’ve officially reached menopause. Mood swings decrease, and angry outbursts become less frequent.
However, every woman experiences menopause differently. Sometimes, mood swings and rage can hang around for a while longer as our bodies adjust to a lack of estrogen. If your periods have stopped for more than 12 months and you’re still concerned about emotional outbursts, talk to your doctor.
Menopause-related rage can feel overwhelming at times, both for you and the people around you.
But there is good news; this distressing symptom won’t last forever. Thankfully, most women notice that once their periods stop for good, their moods begin to stabilize, and their emotions become less erratic.
In the meantime, if you’re struggling with bouts of menopause-related rage, consider speaking to your doctor. They can provide therapy or medications that can rebalance your moods and help you cope with your emotions during this challenging time.
- Low Glycemic Diet: Its Effects, What to Eat and Avoid, and More (healthline.com)
- Full article: Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review (tandfonline.com)
- Water: How much should you drink every day? – Mayo Clinic
- How Does Menopause Affect My Sleep? | Johns Hopkins Medicine