Review on April 28, 2009
Menopause typically comes on gradually, leaving many middle-aged women to wonder if they are in its midst or not. With so many menopausal symptoms, especially ones that are not unique to menopause, it can be difficult to know if menopause is at the doorstep.
If a woman finds herself with heightened irritability and is quick to temper, perhaps menopause, or more accurately perimenopause – the stage leading up to the time when a woman no longer menstruates – is upon her.
Irritability is often the first menopausal symptom to show up or be perceived. Researchers point to various reasons for irritability showing up before other menopausal symptoms, or for being one of the first symptoms that is noticed.
Primarily, the drop in estrogen that is part of the menopausal transition can have psychological effects, such as heightened irritability, depression or ability to concentrate. These psychological symptoms often begin before other symptoms, and many women may not even attribute irritability or depression to menopause, since they can also be linked to the monthly menstrual cycle.
Another reason irritability is often the first symptom noticed is because other mildly felt symptoms compound to produce irritability at early stages of perimenopause. For instance, hot flashes, sleep disorders, anxiety and difficulty concentrating can all lead to heightened irritability.
If irritability is starting to show itself with increasing frequency, menopause could be approaching. If irritability starts to get out of control, it might be a good idea to see a medical professional, especially since it could indicate the onset of a new life phase.