Feeling anxious, irritable or moody?
If you’re like most midlife women your moods fluctuate and it doesn’t take much to make you anxious. Situations that you used to look forward to and handle with ease, such as entertaining friends and family, can suddenly leave you feeling overwhelmed and irritable.
Hormone imbalances cause many women to overreact to things that never used to faze them. Beyond the physical changes you’re going through at this time, you may also be dealing with an empty nest, aging parents, grief issues, or just generally taking stock of your life.
If your anxiety and mood swings are strong enough to interfere with your daily life, talk to your health care provider. You may be clinically depressed or have other health issues that your doctor can help you with. While a hormone imbalance may be part of the problem, it may not be the whole picture.
Solutions: What you can do to ease your symptoms
There are many things you can do to feel better. You can make some of these lifestyle changes today discuss the others with your health care provider.
- Eat a healthier diet, free of processed foods. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the most nutritious foods are found. Check the labels and avoid foods that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined carbohydrates and sodium (salt). All can contribute to more imbalance symptoms.
- Practice portion control. Honor your cravings, but do so in moderation.
- Eat at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. The more colorful ones are packed with valuable nutrients. Dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collards have been shown to help in memory recall and other mental functions.
- Choose organic whenever possible to avoid preservatives, pesticides, hormones and other substances that disrupt hormone balance.
- Whole foods are healthiest, so pick the orange instead of the orange juice. You will get more hormone rebalancing nutrients and fiber to keep you healthy.
- Limit your caffeine intake; drink less coffee and soda.
- Drink more pure water and green tea.
- Load up on berries that packed with anti-oxidants blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Fresh or frozen, they reduce oxidative stress which assaults the cells of the body. So, “berry up” to reduce inflammation and improve your brain cell signaling.
- Avoid saturated and trans fats and choose olive oil and canola oil instead.
- Choose foods high in Vitamin C red peppers, oranges, pine nuts, roasted sunflower seeds. Great for skin protection, leading to fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness overall.
- Boost your omega-3s a beneficial fatty acid found in oily fishes, walnuts, canola and flaxseed oils.
- Spice up your diet with herbs that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties turmeric (also known as curcumin), garlic, rosemary, and cayenne.
- Go for a walk, take the stairs and park farther away. Exercise gets your endorphins moving and helps alleviate symptoms associated with menopause.
- If you’re a smoker, seek the support you need to quit. On average, women who smoke experience menopause symptoms two years earlier than non-smokers. And smokers’ symptoms are often stronger and more troublesome.
- Chemical disruptors can also throw off your balance, so avoid perfumes and go fragrance-free.
- Make time to do the things you love, whether it’s relaxing with a good book or pursuing a favorite hobby.
- Get your life in order; getting rid of clutter can reduce your overall stress and help you manage midlife challenges.
- Reduce your stress with massage therapy, join a yoga class or meditate.
- Get more rest and a better night’s sleep. For tips, see the Trouble Sleeping symptom page.
- Talk to a Chinese medical practitioner about herbal therapy.
- Ask about black cohosh, an herb that has helped some women with hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. To learn more, see the Vitamins, supplements and herbs page.
- See your health care provider for a comprehensive exam and full assessment of your overall physical, mental and emotional health.
- Also seek assessment of brain neurotransmitters, which are hormones in the nervous system (such as serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA and dopamine) that regulate mood and sleep.
- If hormone therapy is recommended, consider bioidentical therapy which matches your body’s hormone structure.
- Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about adrenal support vitamins. Increasing your intake of B & C vitamins, particularly vitamins B5, B6 and B12 can be very helpful. Health food stores and compounding pharmacies are also good places to look for adrenal support vitamins specially formulated for your needs. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap products, invest in yourself.
- Discuss over-the-counter progesterone options with your health care provider.
- You are unique, so your provider should create an individualized plan for you detailing the type, timing and dosage of your therapy.
- Your health care provider may prescribe a short course of some type of anti-anxiety medication.