Menopause and tearfulness
If you’re becoming emotional at situations that never bothered you before, you might be experiencing tearfulness during menopause. Even if it feels like you may have to invest in a tissue company, there are things you can do to find relief if you are tearful.
Tearfulness can present in many different ways during menopause. For some people, they can experience crying spells, where tears spring up in short and sudden bursts with no identifiable trigger.
For others it can manifest as uncontrollable crying in short, intense bursts, where emotions bubble up out of nowhere and then pass.
Some also report more crying or increased emotional sensitivity when watching TV or movies or reading articles.
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HOW LIKELY IS TEARFULNESS DURING MENOPAUSE?
- One study surveyed 675 women seven times during midlife (age 47 to 54) to track health symptoms. It found that 36.8% reported tearfulness at age 47 compared to 20.8% at age 54
- Studies show that oestrogen has a protective effect on the parts of the brain which are affected by depression. It is therefore thought that the hormonal changes that take place during menopause – specifically low oestrogen levels – contribute to mood changes including tearfulness, fluctuating mood and depression. The negative effects of these hormonal changes can also be compounded by physical menopause symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, and poor sleep
- Your lifestyle choices, such as how often you exercise and your diet, can also affect your mood and feeling tearful during menopause. Lack of exercise and a poor diet can lead to a lower level of endorphins (your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals) and sugar crashes, messing with your mood. Read more about nutrition and exercise here.
- How much sleep you get and the quality of that sleep can also affect your likelihood of experiencing tearfulness. For example, a prolonged period of disturbed or restless sleep can result in low mood, poor thinking, and increased emotional vulnerability. Read more about menopause and fatigue here
Read more about the stages of menopause.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TEARFULNESS?
Increased emotional sensitivity
HOW TO HELP TEARFULNESS
Let it go
Tears can help to reduce stress, according to Medical News Today. Sitting with your feelings instead of bottling them up is a healthy decision and can do wonders for bolstering your emotional resilience.
Prioritise your sleep
How much sleep you get and the quality of that sleep is important. You may not feel properly rested without it and this can have a negative impact on your mental health, increasing emotional sensitivity and tearfulness. Try to avoid eating, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and exercise before bed and create a relaxing wind-down routine.
Read more about menopause and sleep.
There is extensive evidence that exercise can help improve mental health. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, while raising endorphins.
Read more about how exercise can help with anxiety.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
Caffeine and alcohol impact your nervous system, increasing stress, anxiety and overall emotional state, as well as causing sleep problems. Try decaffeinated or alcohol-free drinks.
Track your symptoms
When you’re going through menopause, it can be tricky to understand exactly what symptoms are affecting you and when. Apps like Stella are a great way to record symptoms and unpick your personal patterns and triggers.
Find out how Stella helped Emma to feel more capable and in control.
Find space for your happiness
Menopause often comes when you’re facing a mountain of responsibilities and it can feel almost impossible to find time for yourself. Trying something new or joining a new club or class can give you some much needed space to relax and find enjoyment.
Would hormone replacement therapy (HRT) help?
Studies on taking HRT to treat tearfulness are currently inconclusive.
HRT is proven to help with hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes, sleep, among others.
However, it is not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor if you would like to find out more about the best treatment for you.
MENOPAUSE AND TEARFULNESS FAQs
Tearfulness occurs as a result of the hormonal changes that take place during menopause, specifically declining oestrogen levels. When oestrogen decreases it can affect your mood, leading to tearfulness (or even depression).
Some studies suggest that tearfulness can have a beneficial self-soothing effect, but it is important to remember that feeling intense emotions frequently can leave you emotionally exhausted and feeling stressed. This can negatively affect your mood and have a knock on effect on other areas, including your personal and professional life.
Experiencing symptoms related to tearfulness – emotional exhaustion, mood swings, poor sleep,anxiety and depression – can have an effect on your long-term health, including:
- Sleep issues
- Social isolation
- Weight gain and related concerns
- Complications of physical health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure
Menopause can be a turbulent time for your mind and body. If you are experiencing prolonged low mood, anxiety and mood swings, or your symptoms are worrying you, talk to your doctor.
- British Menopause Society: The British Menopause Society response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s call for evidence to help inform the development of the government’s Women’s Health Strategy
- Gračanin A, Bylsma LM, Vingerhoets AJ. Is crying a self-soothing behavior? Front Psychol. 2014 May 28;5:502. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00502. PMID: 24904511; PMCID: PMC4035568.
- Healthline: Menopause mood swings
- Herson M, Kulkarni J. Hormonal Agents for the Treatment of Depression Associated with the Menopause. Drugs Aging. 2022 Aug;39(8):607-618. doi: 10.1007/s40266-022-00962-x. Epub 2022 Jul 30. PMID: 35908135; PMCID: PMC9355926.
- Medical News Today: What causes mood swings during menopause?
- Mishra GD, Kuh D. Health symptoms during midlife in relation to menopausal transition: British prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2012 Feb 8;344:e402. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e402. PMID: 22318435; PMCID: PMC3275131.
- NHS Inform: Menopause and your mental wellbeing
- Shafir T, Love T, Berent-Spillson A, Persad CC, Wang H, Reame NK, Frey KA, Zubieta JK, Smith YR. Postmenopausal hormone use impact on emotion processing circuitry. Behav Brain Res. 2012 Jan 1;226(1):147-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.09.012. Epub 2011 Sep 14. PMID: 21930160; PMCID: PMC3201705.
- The North American Menopause Society: Depression, Mood Swings, Anxiety
- Web MD: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Menopause