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In addition to a myriad of physical effects, emotional symptoms are common during menopause. In fact, up to 50% of all perimenopausal women experience disturbances in mood, including irritability. While several factors can contribute to irritability in day-to-day life, hormonal fluctuations during menopause are often the prime cause of irritability.

One of the most important things to remember is that irritability can be a normal part of the menopausal process. Many women find it helps to learn more about irritability during menopause, because a greater understanding of its symptoms and causes can help determine the most appropriate way to manage irritability and mitigate its effects.

What is Irritability

About Irritability

Irritability is defined as an excessive response to stimuli. Many menopausal women find that they are more easily irritated by the daily stresses and strains of life than they once were. They understand that their reactions may be out of proportion to their triggers, but still have difficulty avoiding irritability.

Symptoms of Irritability

  • Increased stress
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling on edge
  • Lashing out in anger or frustration
  • Less tolerance for people and events
  • Reduced patience
  • Overreacting in situations

While most women know the signs and symptoms of irritability, they may be unaware of its underlying causes. Read on to learn more about the possible causes of irritability.

Symptoms of Irritability
Chronic Irritability: Important Things to Know

Chronic irritability in menopausal women is often due to hormonal imbalance that takes place within their bodies with decreased estrogen levels. Click here to learn more important things about the symptom and what you can do to resolve it.

4 Must Know Facts about Being Angry and Irritable

Did you know that yoga, or other similar exercise styles such as tai chi or Pilates, can help improve your mood in a number of ways? The breathing techniques, meditation and reflection, and physical exercise (which releases endorphins) all have a positive impact and can lift your spirits.

Causes of Irritability

During the menopausal transition, the primary underlying cause of irritability is hormonal imbalance. During menopause, fluctuating estrogen levels have a direct, though complex, effect on the brain's regulation of mood and emotion. Thus, changing levels of estrogen in the body can increase the risk of experiencing irritability during menopause.

Menopause-related hormonal changes can also indirectly trigger irritability. Other menopause symptoms - such as hot flashes, sleep disorders, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, and more - can cause or contribute to irritability.

Causes of Irritability

In addition to natural hormonal changes in menopause, certain lifestyle and medical factors can trigger irritability.

Now that the causes of irritability are better understood, the next step towards managing this common symptom of menopause is learning more about treatment options. Please read on to learn more about the treatment of irritability.

Medications that Cause Irritability and Anxiety

Sometimes, the very fact that you need to take medication for conditions can cause irritability and anxiety in itself. Unfortunately, many menopausal women require prescribed drugs for other health problems, and when they enter this stage in their reproductive lives, the emotional repercussions can be heightened.

Why Am I So Sad and Angry?

Feeling sad and angry are just two of a wide range of emotions that women may experience while going through menopause. Mood swings in general are very common, and awareness of them can be upsetting in itself, causing a repetitive cycle that can be difficult to break.

Irritability Treatments

Treating irritability usually begins with making some positive life changes. These can include:

  • Taking time for oneself, either alone or in the company of positive, calming people
  • Pursuing pleasurable calming hobbies or other activities
  • Utilizing stress reduction techniques, including breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, tai chi, visualization, and more
  • Eating healthy
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining open communication with close kin
Treating Irritability

If irritability persists or develops into a more serious psychological condition, such as anxiety or depression, it is a good idea to speak with a trained healthcare professional who can help.

Often, however, lifestyle changes coupled with alternative medicines are the best way to reduce or put a stop to irritability. Natural remedies can get at the root problem of hormonal imbalance to treat not just the symptom of irritability, but also its underlying cause.

It is generally recommended that women who suffer from irritability and wish to treat it begin with lifestyle changes, then move onto alternative medicines (ideally combining the two) and finally, look to medications if nothing else seems to work. Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for irritability in these three categories.

Stop Being Irritable, Angry, Tired, and Unhappy

It is often possible to alleviate these shifts in your mood by making some lifestyle changes, or some women prefer to take prescribed medication. If you are concerned about the depth and strength of your mood swings, it is important to talk to a doctor.

Top 5 Foods to Prevent Irritability

Irritability is a common symptom of menopause, and some of the best ways to treat it are through healthy diet. Flax seed, Greek yogurt, lentils, turkey, and dark chocolate are all foods that can help improve irritability. Adding these to a healthy diet is the first step toward reducing irritability naturally.

  • Amin, Z. , Canli, T. & Epperson, C.N. (2005). Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition. Behavorial and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 4(1), 43-58. Retrieved from
  • Lane, A.M. & Lovejoy, D.J. (2001). The effects of exercise on mood changes: the moderating effect of depressed mood. The Journal of Sports of Medicine and Physical Fitness, 41(4), 539-545.
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Learn to manage stress. Retrieved May 13, 2016, from
  • Office on Women's Health. (2010). Menopause and mental health. Retrieved May 13, 2016, from
  • Young, S.N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 32(6), 394-399. Retrieved from

General articles

Updated on Nov 03, 2017
Should I Take Medication for Irritability?
HRT can have some nasty side effects. It increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, breast cancer, and blood clots. Because of this, it is important to thoroughly discuss the treatment with your doctor in order to determine if it is suitable for you.There are other, safer options available.
Updated on Jan 23, 2013
Can Chocolate Cure Irritability?
Whether formed into a bar, made into hot chocolate, or added to cookies, many people believe that chocolate has a positive impact on their mood and can reduce irritability. This idea has been extensively studies, but the results of the research has been mixed. Click here to learn more about chocolate's impact on your mood.
Updated on Aug 16, 2011
How to Treat Irritability: 5 Quick Fixes
Irritability is a common problem at any phase of life, but during menopause it may be even more troublesome.Before you engage in any of these tips, make sure you understand all aspects of irritability during menopause, so you can rule out more serious conditions like bipolar disorder and depression.
Updated on Aug 16, 2011
Menopausal Irritability and Your Lifestyle
It is common for women to suffer from irritability during menopause. Their worsened mood can be due to other menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, or fatigue, creating a domino effect. While hormone fluctuations are largely to blame, lifestyle factors can contribute to irritability. Learn more about how lifestyle affects your overall health.