Menopause, Anger & Rage

by Leah Larwood, 24th August 2022

"Your anger is a gift you give to yourself and the world that is yours. In anger, I have lived more fully, freely, intensely, sensitively, and politically. If ever there was a time not to silence yourself, to channel your anger into healthy places and choices, this is it.” - Soraya Chemaly, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Rage
 

Your rage is your gift, channel it baby. But first – why do we feel anger more during menopause? Because, let’s face it, it can be helpful to know what the flip is going on before we can start with some serious channelling.

Rage Against the Machine: Menopausal Anger Explained

In a New Statesman article, columnist, Suzanne Moore spoke of menopause and said, “I don’t really have the mood swings that some talk about. I have just the one mood. Rage.” Often there’s lots of talk about the physical symptoms of menopause yet what about the psychological symptoms, including rage, that can be just as tricky to navigate. (If unarmed, that is.) Rest assured, changes to mood are very common and can occur when you’re perimenopausal and menopausal. In fact, one study showed that in 70 per cent of women, irritability was the most common symptom of menopause (1).

For many, compared to other types of rage, menopausal anger might feel more unpredictable. You may feel quick to feel anger one minute and tearful the next. Relatively content one moment and intensely irritated in a short space of time - you or your family or friends may have noticed that you have less patience than you usually do. This can often become distressing or confusing if you’re not sure what’s happening and it can impact your home and work life relationships, and also your self-confidence. 

Quite frankly, women can feel really shitty. These feelings of anger and irritability can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Yet it’s important to acknowledge that this is common for many women, you’re not alone, and knowing this can help manage feelings of guilt or as though things are spinning out of control. Rest assured, there is support for these natural and common experiences.


The Biology of Bubbling Rage in Menopause 

Your perimenopause rage doesn’t mean that you’re losing the plot. It is good to know that you won’t feel this way forever. In many cases, stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline are set off by frustration, anger or fear, and can make us want to lash out and protect ourselves. Levels of cortisol can rise as we age and can sometimes set off a chain reaction. Usually our oestrogen levels protect us from stress, however, during menopause these plumet, which can make anger, stress and other life situations, trickier to manage.

Not only that, oestrogen helps to regulate serotonin which is a messenger chemical (neurotransmitter) that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain; also known as the ‘feel-good chemical’ due to its uplifting effects on emotion, energy, mood and sleep. Did you know that oestrogen can also influence your serotonin levels (also known as your mood manager or happiness booster)?

When your body produces less oestrogen, your emotions may feel off-kilter. This can become massively unsettling, not knowing when it’s going to strike, and can cause anxiety and stress for you, and those around you, and even impact your sleep. It can send us into a shame spiral and trigger feelings of guilt, adding layers of frustration to the situation. (Luckily, hypnotherapy can help, we’ll come onto that in a mo.)

Falling levels of oestrogen can have a real impact on mood which might include feelings of rage, anger, aggression, frustration, irritability, panic, tearfulness or low self-esteem. Luckily, emotions tend to stabilise after the body adjusts to this decrease in oestrogen.

These feelings of rage may be more prominent during short pockets of time, lasting around a week or two, reappearing a month or so later. Though everyone will experience this differently. If you’re finding that feelings of irritability and rage seem unmanageable or are getting worse it’s always best to check it out with your GP or health care practitioner to explore what’s going on for you.
 

Managing Your Lifestyle to Minimise Triggers

Self-care has never been so important. Women can sometimes get in habits of doing, doing, doing but now really is the time to prioritise you, and try to manage your work and social life so that you make things a little easier for yourself. Less stress, less pressure, less anxiety-inducing activities will reduce chances of triggering anger and irritability.

It can also be unbelievably helpful to have a supportive partner, family and friends. So if you can, do have a frank and open chat about what’s going on for you. Explain that your hormones are changing, that you’d appreciate their support and patience, and reassure them that this too will pass.


How Hypnotherapy Can Soothe

When we spoke to the Clementine community about this, participants told us that they had noticed that since starting menopause the trigger for their anger, and their subsequent reaction to it, was sometimes out of proportion. They told us that they experienced this rage at inconvenient times such as at work or when with their family. They were looking for help to manage their rage in the moment and gain back control so that they could continue with their day.  

Hypnotherapy can help manage feelings of rage, anger and irritability by triggering the body's relaxation response. It can work on both a conscious and unconscious level to help you change any negative thought processes, including rage. 

Hypnotherapy for menopausal anger will often usually involve a range of relaxation techniques and suggestions to help manage these feelings. This can help to change your reaction to anger triggers, leading to calmer and more relaxed feelings. Afterall, feeling calmer in stressful or triggering situations can help us to think more clearly, giving us more agency to react in more beneficial ways.
 

How to Manage Menopausal Anger

The first step really is acknowledging, during the menopause, our hormones are all over the shop. Secondly, remembering that many other women experience this too. Next, it’s helpful to own or take responsibility of your feelings of anger. This isn’t always an easy step. Remember that your anger is coming from somewhere, possibly an unmet need, and is being exacerbated by your hormones during menopause. 

Anger is usually the result of frustrated needs or wants. It can help to reflect on your rage and ask yourself: What did I want that I wasn’t getting? If the anger is directed at a loved one, it can be helpful to make a commitment not to act out anger or to repress it. Instead to become aware of it, to remove yourself from the situation, take a breather, have some space, and after, when you’ve calmed down, to repair any relationships.

You can also stabilise your mood with some simple dietary changes. Omega-3 fats which can be taken in supplement form and also found in olive oil, fish, and nuts, were found to reduce symptoms of menopause (2). Also, decreasing sugars, trans fats and alcohol can reduce possibilities of mood swings, as can drinking more water as dehydration can make you more susceptible to changes in mood (3).

Studies also show that exercise can play a vital role in boosting both physical and psychological states (4). Even 30 minutes of exercise can help with mood swings. After all, exercise releases the feel-good hormones known as endorphins and boosts serotonin levels. Take some space out each day, even if it’s for 10 minutes, for a walk, to dance, practice yoga or another form of exercise you love.

You might also like to keep a Rage Journal, to create a space where you can vent, swear and let of steam! There’s even a popular journal out there called the Rage Page - a journal for the bad days and a sweary gratitude journal of sorts. 

Lastly, studies have shown that if menopausal symptoms become too much, HRT can be a beneficial option. It depends on how severely you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms and how these impact your quality of life and work, and what else you have tried.

Remember, the changes in mood, rage and other negative emotions you might feel during menopause are not your fault. So many women experience them, though some might not openly reveal this to you, but rest-assured, you won’t feel this way forever. Forgive yourself. You are absolutely entitled to feel what you feel, never apologise for how you feel inside – it is valid.
 

How Our Sessions Help

Play Calming Ritual: release unhelpful rage and get back in control

Designed to help women release unhelpful rage and gain control, using cooling mist (optional) to help you to physically cool. The session then uses an NLP technique called ’Spinning’, to help you imagine your anger as a ball of spinning energy. The session works to mentally slow this energy, to calm the mind and body, and ultimately change how you feel by taking away the heat and energy. Take control and use as and when needed. The more you use, the easier it will become to shift out of an angry mindset. 

Sources:
(1) Irritability in Menopause
(2) Omega 3 in Menopause 
(3) Dehydration and Changes in Mood
(4) Mood Swings and Exercise

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