Stress & Anxiety

Perimenopausal Mood Swings: Connecting the Dots & What You Need to Know

Mood Swings

May 22, 2022

Hi, I’m Angela
I'm a functional medicine practitioner & hormone expert working primarily with women in their 40's and 50's to create lasting health.
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As any woman in her perimenopausal stage can attest, the transition can be unpredictable and downright confusing. One day you’re feeling great, the next you’re sobbing uncontrollably for no apparent reason. If you’re like many women during this time, you’ve probably found yourself wondering what on earth is going on. 

Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. By understanding more about your body and how it’s changing, you can get a better handle on your mood swings and get through this phase with your sanity intact! Here’s what you need to know about peri-menopausal mood swings.

Definitely hormones, but not entirely.

We often experience changes in our moods, which can make us feel anxious one minute and depressed the next. You might even find yourself feeling irritable all of sudden – like anytime your partner asks for anything or vice versa! This change impacts not only how you interact with them but also those around us as well; it’s 2022 afterall so who hasn’t experienced this at some point?

You’re wondering how you can get this in check and get your hormones more balanced. What I would like to bring to you today is that even though hormones are fluctuating and changing in this time period of life, it’s very common that the hormones are not at the root cause of your mood imbalances.

I want to share with you the top three things that are actually causing the mood imbalance. One of the main things to understand is that our mood comes from several different areas and systems of our body. It’s not just about our hormones.

The Top Three Determinants 

1. Gut Health

One of the biggest areas that we need to have balanced is our gut. Let’s think about estrogen, our primary female sex hormone. Estrogen is something that contributes to our gut health if it’s balanced. When estrogen is at the optimal level, it helps us to digest food better. It helps our food to move along and even contributes to our metabolism, which is great.

What can happen as our estrogen levels start to lower is that we may not be able to rely on them alone. This means if you have an  imbalanced gut already, the drop in hormones will make it even more obvious how out-of-balance everything else has become!

We need to be thinking of not just what’s happening with our hormones. We need to think of what is happening with our gut health that can help contribute to our mood balance. The reason I want to bring a little bit more to you about this is because what actually helps us regulate mood is something called our neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are chemical signalers and some of them are produced in our gut. They have a pathway that connects with the brain that allows us to utilize these neurochemical signalers and messengers to keep us calm and motivated. They keep us regulated with our mood throughout the day. So it’s not all about our hormones. We have to make sure that our hormones are in check and in balance along with our gut. 

One signal your gut could be out of balance is how often you have bowel movements? Are they coming easy with no pain or discomfort?? If not, then there’s probably something going on here. It definitely can contribute towards estrogen imbalances which would mean any excess amounts in circulation at this moment could affect just as much or even more than if levels were high already!

This could be dependent on your age, especially if you’re getting close to or transitioning into menopause. Your estrogen could be getting lower. If you’re not having daily regular bowel movements, what’s going to happen is the estrogen that you do have in your body is going to start to get backed up and it is not going to move where it should..

The gut-brain connection has been shown to be a major contributor in regulating mood and hormone levels. When we have too much estrogen, it can lead to what’s called “estrogen dominance.” The gut can be a strong contributor for this. It’s absolutely essential that we can see this connection between our estrogen and our gut. We have to get our gut balanced to allow our mood and our hormones to balance with it. 

What we could do right away: 

  • Bring more fiber in your diet.

For most women in this age, we need around 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. We can get this from vegetables, nuts and seeds. There’s some great ways to bring in fiber every day if we’re eating healthy whole foods.

  • Make sure you’re drinking enough water. 

You need to be drinking about a gallon of water a day to allow for us to have proper and consistent bowel movements combined with fiber. 

2. Blood Sugar Levels 

A major contributor in causing mood swings is blood sugar imbalances. Something that can happen as our estrogen levels start to lower is our insulin can become not as easy to regulate. If we eat too much sugar, it can cause our blood sugar to spike.

When insulin levels rise, cortisol levels also rise in the body. All of these things can start to cause inflammation and can get out of balance. When we have inflammation that is too high, it’s also going to delay neurotransmitter production in our gut that helps us regulate mood. 

What we could do right away:

  • Healthy whole foods in the form of vegetables is a must. 

We want to bring in more vegetables and fruits in about a ratio of four to one. This is something that’s going to really help us regulate our blood sugar levels. As I already mentioned, getting fiber in the diet also will help to counteract some of the effects of sugars, especially if you’re eating fruits.

  • Make sure we’re not bringing in sugary drinks and too many sweets.

As estrogen starts to lower, we’ve got to be paying more attention to our blood sugar balance. Practice not eating too many simple carbohydrates in the form of grains. Cut down on sweet treats. 

3. Stress and Cortisol Levels

Our cortisol levels get elevated when we get under stress. It is one other cause of mood imbalance that I find is not often talked about. Stress can put us into a fight or flight situation and also cause us to have inflammatory responses. When we have these two things happening, we’re not going to necessarily be able to keep our hormones in balance. Stress and cortisol are very closely related to balancing both our sex hormones and our thyroid hormones.

When our body is always stressed, it will start to take thyroid hormones or sex hormones to make cortisol because cortisol is a survival mechanism. Whereas our sex hormones and our thyroid hormones don’t necessarily seem that way to our body when it’s in a stressful state.

When we have low thyroid or sex hormones, the body’s natural rhythm is thrown off. This can lead to symptoms such as stress and high blood sugar levels because of cortisol spikes in response to efforts by our bodies’ systems trying to kick start these vital functions back into shape.

What we could do right away:

  • Gain resilience against stress with some exercise. 

I think one of the most overlooked ways to balance your mood is through exercise. I know it sounds like an obvious solution, but when we don’t have enough cortisol in our bodies – which can happen if you’re feeling stressed or overworked- exercising will help lift that stress so be healthier!

It’s also really good for building endurance and giving yourself time where there aren’t any other pressures on top of things such as work deadlines etc., because then all attention goes into moving towards achieving those goals rather than thinking about what might go wrong while doing them. 

  • Consider yoga or meditation and do this with commitment.

In doing yoga and meditation, the most important thing is consistency. This will help you achieve balance in your life long term rather than just getting something temporary. 

So now, you can see how closely and intricately all of these areas in our body are interrelated. Stress, imbalanced blood sugars and imbalanced gut health can all contribute to mood imbalance. We can work on all these three factors without the need to modify hormones in our body. There are ways that we can actually heal the hormones and heal our mood balance naturally while transitioning from perimenopausal into menopause.

Mentioned above are just some quick tips for you. I hope that this helps to shed some light on where your mood and balance symptoms could potentially be coming from. Again, it’s not all about your hormones. There are typically some underlying root causes that are often overlooked. 

If you are feeling moody, stressed out or like your emotions are all over the place, know that you are not alone. And there is hope! There are ways to work on all of these three factors without having to modify your hormones. All you need is a little direction and support. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please schedule a discovery call with me so we can discuss how I can help you specifically. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

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DISCLAIMER:  The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional 

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