Irritability - Stella

Menopause and irritability


Hot flushes, bad sleep, feeling blah…it is understandable that menopause can leave you feeling a little cranky. It’s also common to feel an increase in irritability and rage, which are caused by the hormonal changes that happen at this time.

Read on to find out more about irritability and menopause.


Irritability can show itself in several different ways. There is no strict medical definition but irritability generally means that you easily find yourself getting angry, annoyed or impatient.

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Very likely. Up to 70% report feeling annoyed and irritable during menopause.

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Getting angry or annoyed quickly

Being snappy and impatient

Having a constant sense of tension

Certain sounds and sensations irritate


Check in with your doctor

Menopause is just one of many possible causes of irritability. It is especially common in a number of mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder. Speak to your doctor to ensure that you have the right diagnosis – especially as depression and anxiety become more common at menopause.

Take a look at your medications

If you have depression, anxiety or another disorder which can contribute to irritability, ask your doctor to check your medication. Would you benefit from a higher dose? Or a change in prescription?

Manage stress

It’s easier said than done, but stress can make your irritability worse. Think about the things that trigger your feelings of irritability. It may help to keep a log of your feelings and things that may help or hinder your mood.

Think about yoga and meditation

There is growing evidence that mind and body activities can help to reduce stress and enhance your mood at menopause.

Prioritise physical health

It’s easy to let it slide, especially when you feel overwhelmed. However, a healthy lifestyle can help to ease irritability. In particular, try to get some exercise, eat a balanced diet and cut down on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

HRT could help

HRT is recommended for low mood at menopause, which often goes hand-in-hand with irritability. It is also thought to help with mood swings. Speak to your doctor to find out if this could be an option for you. Non-hormonal treatments for menopause (including antidepressants, which can help with a number of menopause symptoms) may also help.


HRT is recommended for low mood at menopause, which often goes hand-in-hand with irritability. It is also thought to help with mood swings. Speak to your doctor to find out if this could be an option for you. Non-hormonal treatments for menopause (including antidepressants, which can help with a number of menopause symptoms) may also help.

We know that HRT has a positive effect on the brain when it comes to the changes seen with menopause (including those which cause conditions related with irritability). Multiple studies have found that HRT has an effect on the parts of the brain responsible for regulating your mood.

This translates into real-world improvements too. Many studies have found that using HRT can help to ease depression and mood symptoms in menopause, and HRT is recommended as a treatment for low mood and mood swings at menopause.

HRT can also effectively treat many other symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flushes, mood changes, and sleep disturbance, among others. Read more on the risks and benefits of HRT here.

This is not the full story. HRT can be helpful but it is not always the best treatment for certain conditions which can be related to irritability, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Speak to your doctor for personalised advice on the best treatment options for you.

It is also important to be aware that HRT is not suitable for everyone. Your doctor will be able to tell you more about the best approach for you personally.


Irritability has a few different components.

If you are feeling physically unwell – for example, because of hot flushes, aches and pains and poor sleep that come with menopause – it can have an impact on your mental health.

Likewise, the hormonal changes of menopause can cause mood changes including irritability, regardless of whether you have any other symptoms.

During menopause, oestrogen levels fluctuate and ultimately decrease. Oestrogen is known to work on several structures within the brain which regulate mood. These include the amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus.

When oestrogen levels change, these structures are affected. This ultimately leads to the mood changes which are so common at menopause, including irritability.

Irritability is very common at menopause, and can have a big impact on your relationships. It is important to be open with your loved ones about the way you are feeling and the effect it is having. Discover some tips here on how to talk to your partner and even how to talk to teenagers about menopause.

Try to have the conversation in a calm and non-confrontational environment. Be aware that you may all find it difficult to discuss these issues.

You may choose to talk about your experience. Some pointers to discuss could include:

  • What happens when you feel irritable? 
  • What makes you feel angry, enraged or annoyed? 
  • Do you find it more difficult to control your temper than previously?
  • What helps you to feel better?
  • Do you have a plan to address your symptoms?
  • Can they do anything to help you?

You may wish to share this page with them in order to give them the facts. You may also find it useful to have them on board if you are seeking treatment.

Speak to your doctor if irritability is causing you problems, especially if you experience:

  • Feeling sad, depressed or low
  • Struggling with feelings of anxiety or worry
  • Finding your relationships affected by irritability
  • Struggling to cope with your day-to-day life as a result of your symptoms
  • Any other worries or concerns

Seek urgent help if you are:

  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself, suicide or otherwise harming yourself or others
  • Hearing things, seeing things or experiencing other unusual sensations
  • Having strong or unusual beliefs which others can not understand
  • Having any other serious concerns





NHS. Treatment, Menopause


How mindfulness can help ease anxiety. Read more

How creativity helped curb my menopausal rage. Read more

Best foods for menopause. Read more

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