Extreme Cases of Mood Swings

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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.

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

Manic

Irritability

Euphoria

Excess talk

Racing thoughts

Inflated self-esteem

Unusually high energy

Little need for sleep

Impulsiveness/ recklessness

Hallucinations

Depressive

Low self-esteem

Low energy

Sadness

Hopelessness

Slow speech

Unusual sleep patterns

Extreme fatigue

Suicidal thoughts

Poor concentration

Disinterest in activities

Phases of bipolar disorder

When 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

Did you know?

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.

Mood Swings and Sex Hormones

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 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.