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Mood Swings During Menopause

Mood Swings During Menopause 

When your estrogen level starts to decline, it can make you feel as if you have permanent PMS. 

Unfortunately you may think that these up and down emotions are always a normal part of menopause.

The good news is that you don’t have to live with this.

Find out how you can even out your mood swings and start to enjoy life again.

Different Approaches to Resolving Mood Swings

Western approach: 

identifies menopause in different stages. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) often in combination with antidepressants is considered the standard treatment for menopausal mood swings.  This approach can be a lifesaver for many women.   However, there is not a consensus as to when and how to use these medications.

The Eastern approach:

has been developed from the time of the ancient herbalists, thousand of years ago, through today.  Much of this wisdom has been absorbed into the culture, so as a woman matures she knows to add certain herbs and foods into her diet.  Herbal formulas modulate hormonal changes.  Menopause is expected to arrive after 50.   Mood swings, anxiety, palpitations, hot flashes, vasomotor instability, loss of bone mass are not considered normal. 

So let us explore both approaches:

 

Western Approach
What Are The Different Stages Of Menopause?

Perimenopause:

For most women, levels of estrogen and progesterone start to decline naturally from around the age of forty and fewer eggs are produced.   (Fewer eggs are produced, but it does not follow that fewer eggs are available to be retrieved.  Our Anti Mullerian Hormone article explains this.)

This marks the start of the perimenopause - the four to ten years before ovulation stops altogether. A lot of women don’t realize that they are suffering perimenopause mood swings.

many women do not realize that their mood swings are due to perimenopause

*Survey by the online vitamin company Healthspan.

Menopause:

When you have not had a period for one year, you are out of perimenopause and into menopause. The average age for this is 51. 

Postmenopause

...is the term for the years that follow.

Because there is no nutritional support already in the diet as there is in Chinese Medicine, hormone levels don’t tend to drop in a steady and consistent way — they can suddenly spike sharply or dip, triggering flashes, night sweats and disturbed sleep, depression, irritability, anxiety and memory problems. 

Mood Swings Symptoms

Western and Eastern

Some of the emotional changes experienced by women undergoing perimenopause or menopause may include:many women do not realize that their mood swings are due to perimenopause

    - Mood changes
    - Feeling irritable
    - Feelings sad
    - Feeling weepy
    - Lacking in motivation
    - Anxiety
    - Aggressiveness
    - Fatigue
    - Feeling tense

Menopausal Depression

If you are in the age group for perimenopause or menopause and you are feeling irritable and sad, there is a high chance it could be related to menopause - but the above listed symptoms are not only linked to menopause. There are a number of conditions that can cause you to feel this way.

If you are feeling increasingly unable to cope, tell your doctor how you are feeling, so he or she can rule out other medical or psychiatric conditions and recommend medicine or therapy to help you to get you through this rough time. 

I Can’t Concentrate and I'm Forgetful. 
Is This a Normal Part of Menopause?

Unfortunately, difficulty with concentration and minor memory problems can often be what is considered a normal part of perimenopause.

It’s not fully understood why these memory changes happen and there are no western treatments available to relieve these symptoms. 

If you are worried about having memory problems, discuss this with your doctor. He or she may suggest tests to rule out any other underlying medical condition. 

Causes of Mood Swings

Causes According to Western Medicine

There are estrogen receptors all over your body and in your brain. Estrogen in the brain prevents the breakdown and loss of serotonin - the happiness chemical. 

So when estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, so do serotonin levels. This has an impact on our emotions.  

A dropping level of serotonin is thought to be responsible for the increased levels of anger and irritation, even rage which many women suffer at this time of life.

The adrenal glands are also undergoing change which can make you more sensitive to stress hormones during the menopause. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and to suffering panic attacks.

Causes According to Eastern Medicine

Chinese Medicine has always understood this important time of transition and has developed over many generations ways to balance the symptoms, as they did not identify hormones.  Today we see the parallels in understanding as we look at the transition simultaneously with the eyes of both medicines.

We understand that estrogen depletion is compensated for by the use of phytoestrogens in Chinese Medicine. Although the ancient herbalists had not heard of estrogen, they were aware that there is a substance in the body which they call Essence.  

Today Western pharmaceutical companies are focused on Chinese herbs as the inspiration for new drugs.  It is interesting to know that in vivo and in vitro studies have shown these safe and gentle herbs to have a marked effect on the endocrine system* 

Essence is not a specific hormone, it is a soup full of phyto (plant) chemicals which help the body renew and balance the hormones it needs for good health.

Essence includes material for replenishing the Yin hormones, including  estrogen and blood, and also the Yang hormones, including  progesterone and testosterone as well as many other vital substances.  

On the energy map of your body (pictured further down the page) you will find essence as part of the Jing Energy Hub, the energy foundation for the whole body.

If Essence in the body is low there will be clear signals from the body:

    - Feeling a slump of energy 3-5 pm 
    - Less sexual fluids and cervical mucus
    - Less libido
    - Mood swings
    - Hot flashes
    - Foggy thinking (the Clear Yang is not reaching the head)
    - Anxiety
    - Signs of Osteopenia
    - Palpitations
    - Insomnia
    - Dry throat
    - Dry eyes

The Traditional Chinese Medicine View

Chinese Medicine does not see the gentle movement into menopause as a time of loss, this as a wonderful time of renewal and growth – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.   This is a time for women to step into a new world where many creative impulses will find an outlet for expression. 

Although the process of aging naturally lowers our Essence, replenishment, renewal and balance is the basis of all Chinese Medical treatments.

Treatment for Mood Swings

Western Medicine Treatment:  Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT - also called hormone therapy, menopausal hormone therapy and/or estrogen replacement therapy) uses female hormones (often synthetic estrogen and progesterone) as a treatment for common symptoms of menopause - including mood swings.  Antidepressants may also be offered.

Many women are offered anti depressants even if they do not want

*Survey by the online vitamin company Healthspan.

HRT is an effective way to treat menopausal symptoms and it is a common medication for mood swings. It is often prescribed during or after menopause but it is not recommended for everyone. 

To help you determine if HRT is right for you, simply answer yes or no to the following questions:

1. Do you have abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as extremely heavy periods or spotting between periods?
2. Is there a history of breast cancer in your family?
3. Do you have a history of endometrial or uterine cancer?
4. Have you ever had a blood clot in the veins?
5. Do you have chronic liver disease?
6. Do you smoke?
7. Do you have gallbladder disease?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, HRT may not be for you. 

Eastern Medicine Treatment – Renewing Essence,  Energy and Balance 

The great value of your Essence:

Essence is often called ‘’Precious’’ Essence because it helps us to maintain our  youth. It is what gives us deep energy reserves, fertility, libido, tissue elasticity, strength and the gift of being able to regenerate our bodies and regain our health and vitality. Jing is the source of longevity and quality of life.
It is stored in what we call the Jing, and must be protected and guarded because it is so important. 

So essence is a nutritional fluid, but it is also energy, stored energy, ready to be accessed when needed.  It is the biggest energy hub in the body, stored in the Jing.  You feel it as a sense of well being and power, and also the ‘’energy you run on when you run out of energy.’’

This is why getting tired between 3-5 pm is such a 911 call from your body.  This is the ‘’time of the Jing’’.  Having a slump at this time is a clear signal that your energy reserves are running low.

‘’Those who renew and protect their Essence
 will enjoy a youthful body and live a very long and happy life.’’

  
Energy Flow:   The Jing to The Liver to The Heart

 Find out more about the Five Elements and how they affect your health  in our next blog post                                                                                                    

If you refer to the Energy Map of Your Body, which is a diagram of your 5 Organ Systems, you will see there are supportive arrows coming from the Jing to the Liver and the Liver to the Heart.   

For strong health there should be a steady flow of energy from the Jing to the Liver, a steady flow of energy from the Liver to the Heart.  

If this energy support system breaks down many things can be affected, but in this case you start to have multiple symptoms  Western Medicine calls anything from perimenopause to post menopause’.   

If you follow the energy flow (the arrows) you will follow the logic of why these symptoms above can appear.

 

 

If you look at the diagram, you can see that...

The Jing 
(home of essence and huge energy hub) 
> feeds the Liver 
(seat of hormonal balance, creating hormones with the Jing and overseeing a smooth flow of energy throughout the body) 
> which feeds the Heart 
(seat of Calm and balance, a reflection of the energetic balance of the whole body). 

Symptoms that show up when the Essence and the Jing energy is low:

Essence and Jing energy are depleted by meeting life’s challenges and not knowing how to renew that lost energy.  Successful rebound protects your Jing.

Dryness:  dry eyes, throat, skin, less sexual fluids, less cervical mucus.  Without the moisture of the Essence things start to dry up.  

Hot flashes or ‘’power surges” of heat. The moisture of the Essence acts like the coolant in the car.  If it is low the car will overheat.  This heat also dries the Essence even more and it becomes a vicious cycle.circle.

What to expect with treatment:  

Within a month, with the right program, you will feel more energy support in the late afternoon and early evening. Sexual fluids and cervical mucus will start increasing.  Hot flashes and power surges will be less, then return, then be less again, gently fading away. Mood swings will be much less. (The people you love may be the first to notice this change!)  When  the hot flashes are down enough you can start to sleep again healing will dramatically move forward.   As the hot flashes go away over the next few months, the moisture will increase and overall dryness will start to diminish as well. 

Symptoms that show up when the Liver energy loses support of the Jing:

When the Liver does not get enough energy it acts become overactive and this affects energy flow in the whole body.

Emotional instability:  mood swings, irritability, anger, depression

Digestive Issues: weight gain, gas, bloating, GERD, irregular bowel movements, constipation, loose stools.

Tight muscles, feelings of stiffness, lack of flexibility

What to expect with treatment:

Emotional symptoms will diminish very quickly, but will not stabilize until the energy and essence of the Jing is restored.  

To speed up your healing, it is very important to include the Radiant Eight Energy Exercises, breathing exercises, the hot water detox. This will unwind emotional and physical tightness and increase flexibility physically.  Also, following the clear and simple guidelines for eating, and drinking more warm liquids is also very important. 

Symptoms that show up when the Heart energy is not supported by both the Liver and the Jing.

When the Heart does not receive enough energy from the Liver AND the Jing (the Jing has a direct path of its own to the Hearth) the Heart can not settle down into its natural state of calm energy causing:

    - insomnia
    - palpitations
    - feelings of anxiety, even panic

What to expect with treatment:

    - Palpitations will calm down and disappear within the first month.
    - Anxiety and panic will also diminish dramatically.
    - Things will not stay completely stable until the Jing energy is restored.
    - Insomnia will gradually get better and the Jing is restored.

5 Steps to Success 

1. The Radiant Eight Energy Exercises

If you are suffering from mood swings, being very organized about doing the Radiant Eight Energy Exercises everyday can have a profound effect.

    - Release energy blockages deep within the body, not touched by going to the gym.
    - Allowing stagnant energy you have but could not use to flow more freely again.

These exercises are medical qi gong exercises. They are designed to target everyone of your 5 organ systems in only 15 minutes of your time.  They are simple to do standing stretches, and yet they powerfully set your body up to heal your menopausal symptoms.

2. Reduce Stress

It’s very important to lower your stress levels because high stress has a negative impact on your ability to rebound from challenges.  Chronic stress without rebound depletes your Jing.

We know that Essence is stored in the Jing and the Jing supports your adrenals. The adrenal glands can easily become depleted by overwork, poor food choices and a lack of sleep. Once the adrenals are depleted, the Jing and its Essence are depleted.

How can you reduce stress?  First, find and use the herbal formula perfect for your unique stress response. This is when the advice of a professional Chinese herbalist is invaluable. She can guide you to exactly the right formula.

Chinese Medicine feels that mental stress and emotional distress is trapped by blockages of energy you hold in your body.   

You may have lots of thoughts about what is stressing you and what caused the stress.  Chinese Medicine deals with the physical debris left behind from the stressful events.

Unwind the stress physically, and without thinking about it at all, you begin to have more flexibility, more calm, more sense of well being.  From this vantage point things begin to feel better and you regain control.  

Stress happens when flexibility and control is lost.

3. Get Plenty Of Good Quality Sleep

When you’re asleep, your body gets a break from running all of your systems as required. It can focus on repair and renewal. The more it repairs and renews your body, the better you will feel and the better you will sleep.

Research supports being in bed by 10pm and getting a good 7 hours of sleep.   This is often impossible, but if you can at least be in bed by 11 you are working with the principles of Chinese Medical theory, that the most critical time to be sleeping is between 11 pm and 3am.  This is not implying you should awaken at 3, but it does reinforce that this is the time of the night when the most renewing and repairing is done.  Essence is also renewed during these hours.

Resolving sleep issues can e a challenge, but if you incorporate the techniques and herbal formulas shared by your professional Radiant Wonder herbalist you will gradually find the success you want.

4. Eat a Nutritious Diet

Low levels of Vitamin B12 and magnesium have been linked to low mood so try to boost your intake by eating -

Lots of eating leafy green vegetables can help with mood swings

    - Whole grains (Rice, Spelt, Oats)
    - Pulses*
    - Eggs
    - Dried Unsulphured Apricots
    - Nuts
    - Seeds
    - Leafy green vegetables
    - Squash, Zucchini
    - Root Vegetables (Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Carrots)
    - Garlic, Onions (especially cooked onions)
    - Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals

*What are ‘’Pulses?’’ 

Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat.

How you cook and what you cook changes with the seasons.

Prepare vegetables according to the season. This will help your body stay warm and strong in the winter; feel cooler and lighter in the summer.   

In the winter:  cook with oil, bake, avoid raw foods. Eat more root vegetables, little fruit.
In the summer:  stir fry with water instead of oil, eat more fruits and enjoy your salads.

Eat or Drink in moderation

    - Fruit (only apples and pears in the winter, unless you live in the tropics)
    - Fruit Juices
    - Potatoes
    - Tomatoes
    - Bell Peppers
    - Eggplant

Eat smaller quantities of

    - Meat - organic if possible. Non-organic often has high levels of hormones.
    - Fish - Eating foods such as oily fish (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) have been shown to help to lift the mood 

If you’re a manual worker or labourer, eat more of these. If you’re sedentary, eat sparingly.

Avoid

    - Too much Bread
    - Products high in flour
    - Processed foods
    - Items with high additives
    - Items with high sugar (sugar creates excess heat)

Eliminate

    - Caffeine
    - Alcohol
    - Cigarettes

5. Talk About It

In our Western Culture, there's a ridiculous taboo surrounding the menopause transition. This means that you may not even tell your good friends how you are feeling. 

This can make you feel isolated which may take your mood and confidence down even further than it is already. 

Try to talk with the people who love you.  Help them understand why you may seem moody, irritable or weepy.  Just letting them know will not fix the situation, but they will understand and you will feel some relief.

Consider talking with one of our health professionals here at Radiant Wonder.  We have professionally trained herbalist who are experts in understanding the challenges you are going through. They not only have the Chinese medical training, but they have personal experience with this transition.   

If you have a free consultation they can give you practical things to do and an herbal program that is designed just for you and your unique patterns.  This is not a ‘’one size fits all’’ medicine.   

Then it is important to follow through with our free follow up program.  As you heal your herbal formulas will change.  As you heal you will need less herbal formulas because your body will regain its own function and balance.

If you chose to use the Quick Start Program below understand that the formulas we have chosen are safe, gentle and very effective, but they are not drugs.  They will not work as powerfully as you want within a few weeks.   At that point your body will just be beginning to shift into more balance.

We will send you an email in a couple of weeks.  Use that as a reminder to set up a consultation so we can help you learn exactly how to set your body up to heal and get faster, deeper results.  You need more than herbal formulas for solid, long lasting results.


References

1. Efficacy and side-effects of a semi-individualized Chinese herb mixture 
"Tiáo Gēng Tāng" for menopausal syndrome in China.(2015)
http://1.usa.gov/1sww3d3

2  A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Chinese herbal medicine granules for the treatment of menopausal symptoms by stages. (2016)
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26671188)

3. A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of a Chinese herbal formula (Er-Xian decoction) for menopausal symptoms in Hong Kong perimenopausal women.(2013)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23793167

4. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Chinese herbal medicine granules for the treatment of menopausal symptoms by stages. (2016)
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26671188)

5. Puerarin (Kudzu Root) prevents bone loss in ovariectomized mice and inhibits osteoclast formation in vitro (2016)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27114313

 

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