How to Identify and Treat Perimenopause Rage

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN on January 16, 2018Written by Kathryn Watson on January 16, 2018

Anger during perimenopause

Perimenopause is the transition into menopause. It occurs when your ovaries gradually begin to produce less of the hormone estrogen. Since the hormonal balance of your body is changing, it’s normal to experience symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. You may also notice your metabolism slowing down.

The hormonal changes of menopause, combined with its side effects, can have a significant impact on your mood. It’s not out of the ordinary to experience mood swings, sadness, and even rage during this time. In fact, one study found that for 70 percent of women, irritability is the most common symptom.

These changes typically start in your mid-40s, and can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Once you’ve gone a full year without having a menstrual cycle, you’ve reached full menopause.

Keep reading to learn how to identify perimenopause-fueled anger, why it happens, and how to manage it.

How to recognize perimenopause rage

Perimenopause-induced rage may feel significantly different than your typical anger or frustration. You may go from feeling stable to feeling intensely resentful or irritated in a matter of moments. Your family members or friends may also notice that you have less patience than you usually do.

Some healthcare providers suggest that having strong premenstrual symptoms throughout your life may mean you’re more likely to experience drastic perimenopause mood swings.

If this sounds like you, you may want to watch for other symptoms of perimenopause. This includes:

  • irregular periods
  • difficulty sleeping
  • vaginal dryness
  • loss of libido

If you’re experiencing symptoms like these, see your healthcare provider. They can confirm your diagnosis and develop a treatment plan to help ease your symptoms.

Why does perimenopause rage happen?

Your perimenopause rage doesn’t mean that you’re going crazy. You won’t feel this way forever. There’s a chemical reason for what you’re experiencing.

Estrogen affects the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a mood regulator and happiness booster. When your body produces less estrogen, your emotions may feel off-balance. Your emotions should stabilize after your body adjusts to the decrease in estrogen.

You may find that your feelings of rage are touch and go. It may be more prominent for a week or two, then disappear for the next month or so. This is because your estrogen levels are declining over time. Your estrogen-serotonin balance will be thrown off with each period of decline.

How to find relief

There are steps that you can take to help balance your hormones and regain control of your moods. Once you find space in your mind to accept and address your anger, it may become easier to understand and live with this symptom.

1. Accept your anger

You may want to suppress your anger so that it doesn’t inconvenience anyone else. But research tells us that “self-silencing,” or finding ways to keep yourself from acknowledging and expressing your anger, puts you at a greater risk for experiencing depression. Listen to your body and accept that what you’re experiencing may be a result of your body’s adjustments.

2. Learn your triggers

There are some lifestyle habits, like high caffeine intake and smoking cigarettes, that trigger anxiety. Dehydration can also make you more prone to mood swings. And if your sleep is frequently interrupted by hot flashes, it may be hard to navigate complicated emotions. But everyone’s body works differently.

Try to identify these triggers by keeping a daily journal for at least two weeks. You should record what you ate, how many hours of sleep you got, if you exercised, and how you felt at different points during the day. If journaling isn’t your thing, mood tracking or period predicting apps are also a great way to track this information.

3. Take a step back

When you’re in the midst of a heated moment, practice taking a step back to mull over where your emotions are coming from.

Don’t discourage yourself for being angry, but do address the cause of your anger. Ask yourself questions like, “Would I be so angry if I were feeling better?” and “Does this person or situation deserve the level of anger that I want to direct at them?”

By being mindful that you’re prone to escalated emotions right now, you’ll be better equipped to deal with frustration appropriately.

4. Meditate

Mind-body therapies, such as meditation and yoga, have been found to have benefits for women in perimenopause. Deep breathing techniques and other mindfulness practices can help you sleep better and cut back on hot flashes that wake you up during the night. You can start to incorporate these practices into your life by using a mindfulness app on your phone or attending yoga classes to learn the basics.

5. Find an outlet

Finding an outlet to work through your emotions may help your mood swings diminish.

Physical outlets like aerobic exercise can help keep you from gaining weight as your metabolism slows down. Exercise also taps into the serotonin supply that you need to boost and manage your moods.

A creative outlet, such as gardening, painting, or sculpting, can help you focus on cultivating a quiet space in your mind to work through your emotions and get space for yourself.

6. Take medication as needed

Medication might help you deal with perimenopause rage and anxiety. Birth control pills, such as Loestrin or Alesse, can be prescribed to even out your moods and suppress uterine bleeding. Antidepressants, such as escitalopram (Lexapro), may also be taken as a temporary measure to help you feel more balanced.

If you think medication may be helpful, talk to your healthcare provider. They can walk you through your options and help you find something that suits your individual needs.

7. Consider therapy or anger management

Counseling and anger management are tools that can help you manage your anger. In one 2017 study, researchers found that women with both diabetes and menopausal symptoms greatly benefitted from a group counseling setting that encouraged self-care.

See if your healthcare provider knows about support groups, anger management groups, or a counselor that specializes in perimenopause rage.

When to see your healthcare provider

If you already feel like your anger is impacting your ability to do your job or function in your relationships, talk to your healthcare provider. Though some people believe otherwise, it isn’t “normal” to feel consistently angry or depressed during perimenopause. Your healthcare provider can help you identify and understand your symptoms, as well as develop a care plan.

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