Extreme Cases of Mood Swings

While mood swings are common during menopause, emotional and mood related symptoms occasionally indicate a more serious condition. Mood swings that are extreme, last for an extended duration, or put a woman or others at risk of harm might warrant professional help. To learn more about when to seek help for mood swings, read on to discover the symptoms of bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety.


Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause women to experience mood swings. Common symptoms of mood swings include anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. Hormone changes can also cause women to experience depression, headaches, and irregular periods. Menopausal women should try exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and de-stressing to regulate hormone levels and help prevent mood swings.


Heavy and severe mood swings affect nearly 20% of women. They are commonly caused by fluctuating levels of hormones and chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. To help alleviate symptoms of mood swings, maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, sleeping at least seven hours a night, reducing stress, and exercising regularly.


Bipolar Disorder and Mood Swings

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is a group of mood disorders, characterized by the presence of one or more episodes of mania, or abnormally elevated mood, and alternating episodes of depression, or prolonged low moods.

While women with normal mood swings during menopause might identify with this definition, bipolar disorder is more extreme. It is a psychological condition that requires medical treatment. Mood swings related to menopause can often be treated before they get serious enough to require professional help from a healthcare provider.

Symptoms that a woman is most likely to experience if she has bipolar disorder vary, but some of the most common symptoms on the depressive scale include low energy, sadness, low self-esteem, extreme hopelessness, and extreme fatigue. On the manic scale, some of the most common symptoms include racing thoughts, irritability, excess talk, and unusually high levels of energy.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder


•  Irritability

•  Euphoria

•  Excess talk

•  Racing thoughts

•  Inflated self-esteem

•  Unusually high energy

•  Little need for sleep

•  Impulsiveness/ recklessness

•  Hallucinations


•  Low self-esteem

•  Low energy

•  Sadness

•  Hopelessness

•  Slow speech

•  Unusual sleep patterns

•  Extreme fatigue

•  Suicidal thoughts

•  Poor concentration

•  Disinterest in activities

Phases of bipolar disorderWhen these symptoms interfere with a woman's normal daily functioning, her mood swings may be indicative of bipolar disorder. If she experiences the depressive characteristics exclusively, she may have clinical depression.

Keep reading to learn more about depression, which can be triggered or enhanced by menopause, and may cause mood swings.

Depression and Mood Swings

Roughly 17.5 million Americans are affected by some form of depression.

Roughly 17.5 million Americans are affected by some form of depression.

Depression, termed major-depressive disorder, is another condition which is more serious than mood swings and often requires professional help. While many women experience the symptoms of depression at different times in their lives, clinical depression is more than a temporary state or a symptom of menopause.

Clinical depression is characterized by at least two or more weeks of experiencing five or more of the following symptoms every day or almost daily:

Mood changes• Depressed or irritated mood

• Diminished or lost interest in daily activities

• Significant and unexplained weight loss/gain

• Insomnia or excessive sleeping patterns

• Extreme cognitive agitation or depression

• Extreme fatigue

• Inappropriate feelings of guilt and worthlessness

• Inability to concentrate

• Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

If a woman believes her mood swings might be symptomatic of depression, it would be wise to speak with a qualified health care professional. Read on to learn about the symptoms of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety and Mood Swings

Disorders of clinical anxiety

• Generalized anxiety disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Post traumatic stress disorder
• Social phobia
• Panic disorder

Anxiety is another condition more serious than menopause-induced mood swings. Anxiety disorders affect up to 18% of adults in the US, making it the most common type of mental illness. Clinical anxiety is a group of disorders that include the ones in the box at the right.

Generalized anxiety is characterized by chronic, exaggerated, and inappropriate worry, fear, tension, and concern. These feelings are often accompanied by physical symptoms including:

• Fatigue

• Muscle aches

• Tension

• Trouble swallowing

• Irritability

• Headaches

• Sweating

Woman with headache: physical symptoms of mood swings include headaches

While many of these symptoms are similar to those experienced during the mood swings of menopause, anxiety disorders often cause a combination of extreme and debilitating psychological and physical symptoms.

Fortunately, various forms of support and help are available for women who experience psychological conditions more serious than mood swings. Most women who go through menopause will not develop such symptoms. If concerned about mood swings or other symptoms during menopause, it is wise to speak with a qualified health professional.

Often, lifestyle changes and natural remedies can significantly help to treat common mood swings during menopause. Continue on to learn more about treatments for mood swings.

34 Menopause Symptoms