Perimenopause & Emotional Health in 2024: A Crash Course

January 09, 2024.

medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Welcome to 2024. As we enter this new year, we want there to be more open discussions around uncomfortable topics. Mental health, for example. Mental health, for many years, has been a sticky subject in many a dinner conversation simply because of the so-called taboo associated with it. Women in perimenopause, in addition to dealing with the physical changes, also deal with emotional shifts every day. These emotional shifts can be exhausting, draining, and sometimes, extremely complicated. But instead of shying away from those complicated emotions, we are here to break the silence and lend an ear to anyone wanting to open up.  

Imagine this: one moment, you’re feeling like you’ve got it all under control, and the next, it’s like everything’s turned upside down. Perimenopause has a knack for throwing curveballs at your emotions when you least expect it. The surprise? It’s all tied to those hormonal tides that estrogen and progesterone are busy stirring up.

These hormones, usually behind the scenes, suddenly decide to play a dominant role, bringing with them a torrent of emotional twists and turns. They’re the maestros of mood swings, orchestrating a symphony of feelings that can leave you feeling a bit confused.

In this deep dive, we’re here to unpack these emotional waves. We’ll unravel the common challenges you might face, dive into the reasons behind these emotional surges, and, most importantly, equip you with some handy strategies to navigate this phase with a touch more grace. 

Common emotional challenges

One of the main challenges lies in the realm of mood swings. Picture this: you’re feeling upbeat and positive one minute, and the next, a wave of irritability or sadness washes over you. These mood swings can be unsettling, leaving you wondering if you’re on an emotional seesaw without a stop button.

Anxiety also tends to make its presence felt during perimenopause, sometimes showing up unannounced or intensifying preexisting worries. The feeling of apprehension or unease about the future might become more prominent, making everyday tasks seem a bit more daunting than usual. It’s like your mind’s alarm system is on high alert, reacting to situations that might not have caused much concern before.

Changes in personality can also throw you for a loop during this phase. You might find yourself responding differently to familiar situations or noticing shifts in your usual behavior patterns. Whether it’s being more introspective, seeking more solitude, or feeling less patient than usual, perimenopause can certainly put a unique spin on your usual demeanor.

Apart from these common challenges, a few lessser known problems include:

  1. Emotional numbness: It can feel like a disconnect from emotions, leaving one feeling detached or less responsive emotionally.
  2. Increased sensitivity: This sensitivity can magnify reactions to situations or comments, making you more prone to feeling hurt.
  3. Loss of interest: There could be feelings of disinterest or a lack of motivation, affecting various aspects of life, including hobbies or social interactions.
  4. Crying: It might seem perplexing, but the hormonal changes during perimenopause can sometimes lead to a heightened emotional response, resulting in more frequent episodes of crying.
  5. Brain fog: This might involve difficulty in processing emotions or a feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed without a specific cause.
  6. Increased irritability: While mood swings are often highlighted, tt can sometimes manifest as heightened sensitivity to stimuli, leading to frustration or irritability more frequently than usual.

Factors affecting emotional health

Hormonal fluctuations

Estrogen and progesterone, the dynamic duo responsible for regulating mood and emotional stability, start playing a game of peaks and valleys. These hormonal variations can trigger mood swings, anxiety, and even feelings of depression. As these hormones decline, their impact on neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine—the brain’s mood regulators—can cause emotional turbulence.

Sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances can significantly impact emotional well-being. A lack of quality sleep can exacerbate mood swings, increase irritability, and heighten emotional reactivity. 

Stress and lifestyle factors

The hormonal shifts during this phase might intensify the body’s stress response, making women more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed. Lifestyle changes, such as caring for aging parents, adjusting to children leaving the home, or career transitions, can add layers of stress that influence emotional health. 

Preexisting mental health conditions

For women with preexisting mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, perimenopause can aggravate these conditions. The hormonal fluctuations can intensify symptoms, leading to more pronounced emotional challenges. 

Relationship dynamics and support networks

The quality of relationships and the presence of a supportive network play a pivotal role in emotional well-being. Changes in dynamics within personal relationships, whether with a partner, family, or friends, can impact emotional stability. 

Coping strategies and self care

There are coping strategies and they can be a great first step in your emotional health journey. Please note that for some medical solutions can be a powerful tool as well, we therefore recommend to visit a trusted physician and or psychologist to talk about your felt experiences.

Download a meditation app

Take a few minutes daily to listen to guided meditation sessions through apps like Headspace or Calm. 

Try out a new recipe

Set aside time to immerse yourself in the kitchen, focusing on creating a delicious dish or baking something comforting. The process itself can be a calming and therapeutic.

Listen to a new podcast

Create a playlist of your favorite podcasts. Engaging with exciting podcasts can shift your mood, distracting you from stress and offering a mental escape during a difficult episode.

Journal daily

Set aside a few minutes each day to jot down things you’re grateful for. Reflecting on positive aspects of your life, no matter how small, can shift your perspective and boost overall well-being. You can try our perimenopause-specific Perry Menopause Journal.

Take a walk!

Spend time outdoors in nature or nurture a small indoor garden. Even a short walk in a nearby park can provide a sense of tranquility and connection with nature, alleviating stress.

Pick and engage in a new hobby

Engage in a creative hobby like painting, sketching, knitting, singing, dancing, gardening, or even cooking. This should be your time and space to explore and experiment.

Practice breathing exercises

Techniques like box breathing or belly breathing can help calm the nervous system, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calmness.

Main takeaways

As we draw the curtains on this initial exploration of emotional health during perimenopause, one thing becomes evident: this phase isn’t just about physical changes. It’s a transformative journey filled with emotional twists and turns that deserve a spotlight. We’ve uncovered the emotional rollercoaster that many women ride during perimenopause—a ride influenced by hormonal fluctuations, sleep disruptions, and life’s myriad stressors.

But amidst these challenges lie opportunities for self-care. By implementing practical strategies like engaging in guided meditation, trying new recipes, or simply enjoying uplifting music, women navigating perimenopause can take active steps toward nurturing their emotional well-being. 

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to emotional health during perimenopause. Each woman’s journey is unique, and it’s essential to find strategies and coping mechanisms that resonate personally. 

Sources

Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice.

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Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

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