Emotional Menopause Symptoms: Why they can worsen or come back

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Ask Eileen

31 January 2022

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I explain why emotional symptoms can come back or worsen.

It's such a common scenario and so many women contact me to say they've managed to control their emotional symptoms during menopause, only for them to suddenly come back or get worse. It may well be that they're now post-menopause and suddenly, a range or combination of emotional symptoms come back and they're absolutely lost. So, they want to know why is this happening?

There can be a lot of different reasons. So, I thought today, I would go through some of them and also, look at the things that you can do to help yourself.

What are the emotional symptoms of menopause?

The main emotional symptoms we're looking at would be things like anxiety, low mood, mood swings and anger. There are also some lesser-known and often surprising emotional symptoms such as crying for no reason at all, loss of confidence, feeling unsociable, and maybe feelings of grief.

What causes emotional symptoms to worsen or come back?

So, what can the causes be? As I mentioned above, several factors can cause emotional symptoms to worsen or come back. Below I take a look at some of the common causes and also what you can do to help yourself:

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1. Hormonal changes

The important thing to realise is that menopause isn't a static state. You don't just get there and then, that's it. And your hormones don't always fall nicely and in harmony with each other. Your hormone fluctuation can sometimes go up and down like a yo-yo. And especially, during peri-menopause and at the beginning of the menopause when there's still a bit of hormonal flux, your oestrogen can sometimes dip very, very suddenly, and that can then open up all these emotional issues.

2. Stress

It can be due to general day-to-day stress. If you are stressed generally, just by everyday life, not necessarily anything in particular, that can put extra stress on your nervous system and that can then trigger flight-or-fight and that can lead to a resurgence of emotional issues that you thought maybe you were on top of.

3. Sleep problems

It can be poor sleep. We know that even just a couple of nights of poor sleep can have a huge impact on the nervous system and your mood. So, if everything's been okay, but suddenly, you find that you're not sleeping again, that can be enough of a trigger to bring all these emotional issues back into view.

4. Heightened emotional times

It can be heightened emotions as well. So, you may have experienced grief of some kind, it could be to do with relationship breaks down, maybe you're worried about your family, or specific family members, or friends. Again, that little bit of extra stress can be enough to tip over your nervous system, and that can lead to everything else coming back up.

5. Your liver

It can also be due to liver function and a lot of women do tell me that over the winter holidays in January, things seem to get worse. And it's not just necessarily the bad weather. It's because, over the holiday period, you may have been drinking more alcohol than usual or have been overindulging in heavily fat and sugar foods, and not eating enough healthy fresh foods.

This can also happen during the summer when you go on holiday. You go to relax but you're maybe, again, eating and drinking more, and when you get back from holiday, instead of feeling relaxed, you feel worse and much more emotional. And it's just because your poor old liver has had all this extra stress put upon it and that in itself can affect the emotions too.

6. Low vitamin D

For those of you that experience winter seasons, the emotional symptoms coming back can be due to low vitamin D. If you're not getting out and about, if you're not getting plenty of sunshine and sunlight on the skin, then your vitamin D can plummet. Vitamin D reserves can also decrease the older you get. So, if you have a combination of age and lack of sunlight, then your vitamin D levels can drop quite considerably. And one of the things that low vitamin D will do is to cause anxiety and stress.

7. Other nutritional deficiencies

If you're not giving your body the nutrition it needs, that's going to affect your nervous system.

So, as I mentioned before, if you have been overindulging lately and not looking after your diet quite so well, if you're skipping meals, or if you're going on a diet, that can all cause you to experience more or worsening emotional symptoms.
Going on a diet is a really interesting one. A lot of women tell me when they're on low-calorie, low-fat diets with lots of exercise, their emotional issues come to the fore.

And it could also be due to dehydration and forgetting to take your regular supplements.

What else can affect your emotional symptoms?

The other thing that can happen too is that we have areas in the brain that specifically deal with coping with emotions. When your oestrogen falls, these emotional coping mechanisms don't work as well.

We women are very good at it controlling our emotions generally. We try not to get angry. We don't talk when we feel that we should talk, and maybe we don't say things that we feel. So, we're very good at masking our true emotions and how we really feel. But low oestrogen, during perimenopause and menopause, can lessen that control. So, these emotions that we've tried to hide away can come out as well.

Memories sometimes come back from the past and, obviously, that will affect our mood as well. So, there can be several different ways and mechanisms by which our emotions can suddenly come back.

What can help support your emotions during menopause?

It's always a good idea here is to look at when these things appeared, what was going on in your life, and you might find a clue. You may well find that you haven't been looking after yourself so well. You may find you've been extra busy. You've been putting extra pressure on yourself. You may find that you haven't been drinking enough water or you haven't been sleeping well.

So, very often, it's a good idea to try and find a clue because it then makes it easier to fix at the end of the day.

What else can help?

It is easy to forget the basics and let them slip a little so that would be getting a good night's sleep, eating well, remembering the water every single day, getting regular, sensible exercise, and that rest and relaxation.

If you're in northern climes where it's dark winters, remember your vitamin D supplement's a really important one.

Herbs and other supplements that can help would be magnesium, 150 milligrams maybe twice a day, and a vitamin B complex.

Passionflower is a lovely herb for helping with emotions, and general stress, and anxiety. If you're out and about a lot and you find that your emotions tend to just, sort of, swell up out of the blue, we have our lovely Passiflora Complex Spray that you can carry in your handbag.

You've also got the herb Valeriana, which is maybe a little bit stronger.

You can also try the flower essences such as Emotional Essence or Emergency Essence. These are so lovely for emotional issues. For those of you who are maybe not in the UK and Ireland, most countries have a range of flower essences, and they are worth checking out because they can work so well at just helping you to cope with things that you've maybe found a little bit difficult with.

So, I hope you found this one helpful. For those of you out there that have experienced this, please share what you did to help yourself. We would really love to know.

And until next week, take care.

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