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Why So Angry? Discover Why Women Get So Fired Up in Midlife, and How to Control the Rage.

There's a physiological reason your temper is quicker during perimenopause. Here's what is happening and tips for taking the edge off.

Anger is a big, powerful emotion that no one is immune to experiencing. “Anger is wired into our full range of emotions to ensure the strength to respond and protect that which is important to us,” explains Karen Bonnell, an author and coach who works with individuals, couples, and families facing life transitions. “Think about a momma bear’s protection of her young. We all have a bit of momma bear within us whether we have children or not.” For many women, though, momma bear may have been hibernating…until midlife. Annoyances that you used to brush off suddenly set you off. Instead of biting your tongue when someone pisses you off, you give them a tongue-lashing. While it can be healthier to express your emotions instead of bottling them up, these uncontrollable outbursts can have negative effects, especially on relationships.

Most of the time, these erratic mood swings surprise not just you but also the person who is on the receiving end of your fury. Both of you may feel confused and unsure of how to respond, and you may end up feeling embarrassed or regret your reaction. Understanding what’s triggering these eruptions can help you control your emotions. And when you don’t, you’ll feel less guilty and be better equipped to do damage control. 

The Link Between Hormones and Mood Swings

Starting in your late 30s to mid-40s, your hormones begin to fluctuate wildly. This stage of life is known as perimenopause, the precursor to menopause when your periods stop completely. During this time, estrogen levels, which influence mood-regulating brain chemicals, experience sharp dips and spikes at random times. When estrogen drops, feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, plummet too, setting you up for more volatile emotions. At the same time, progesterone, a natural antidepressant that also prevents anxiety, is also declining. “When this hormonal system gets out of balance, symptoms of irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings, foggy brain, tense muscles, and sleep disturbances can all occur,” says psychiatrist Swapna Vaidya, MD. As a result, irritations, annoyances, and frustrations can escalate in an instant. “If we layer on top of the hormonal and neurotransmitter changes the fact that many women experience profound sleep disruption coupled with anxiety, we have a perfect storm for raw, unchecked experiences of rage,” says Bonnell.

Up to 70 percent of women around the world report irritability as their primary complaint during perimenopause.[1] But don’t panic. There are steps you can take to keep your frustrations from boiling over.

4 Ways to Take the Edge Off

“Think of angry outbursts as a personal signaling system,” says Bonnell. “You’ll experience increasing anger and more intrusive, unpredictable outbursts the more depleted you are of self-care.” That’s why it’s so important for you to take care of yourself during this stage of life. Here are four essential self-care strategies that can help to take the edge off and help with other symptoms you may experience during perimenopause.

Move more. Exercise produces endorphins, natural feel-good chemicals, and can boost serotonin levels, helping you regain your cool. Activity can also work as an on-the-spot diffuser — take a few laps around the block, do some jumping jacks, or throw some air punches (or hit a pillow or cushion). Regular workouts will also help to keep your emotions on a more even keel.

Eat healthy. A diet of non-processed foods high in vegetables, fruits, grains, clean proteins, and healthy fats can ease menopause symptoms and help you feel good.

Chill out. Meditation is one of the best ways to become more mindful and calmer. You can also do yoga, take walks in nature, plan time for joy, anything that helps you relax.

Get a better night’s sleep. While night sweats and insomnia may be hard to manage, you have control over other factors that can improve your chances of sleeping better. Sleep is an integral part of managing your emotions, improving your mood, and warding off depression. You can start by practicing good sleep hygiene like no screens before bedtime and keeping your bedroom cool and dark. And don’t let distractions like Hulu, the latest bestselling novel, or a sink full of dishes prevent you from going to bed at a reasonable time. Any steps you can take to get more sleep will help to regulate your emotions during the day.

“Your particular experience will be in part related to your ability to be gentle, accepting, and caring for your body, your emotional world, and your inner experiences as this physiologic process unfolds,” says Bonnell.

Remember, you’re not the only one experiencing these bouts of anger, and there are resources that can help make this transition smoother. Gennev, a virtual health clinic for women 40+, is a great place to start. You’ll find menopause-trained doctors and health coaches who can offer relief from symptoms and help you understand how to take care of yourself to feel great now and avoid health problems in the future.  

By: Michele Stanten

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440789/

 

See medical disclaimer below. ↓

17 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the article. I do all of the above as you suggested, am on HRT as well. But, do you live with a pubescent teenage daughter who triggers you every day?

  2. Men are allowed to be angry. Women are given medication and endless advice re: yoga, adaptogens, meditation…where is the industry enriching themselves by treating men and their anger?

  3. Also, I mostly feel like my anger is justified. And that I’m not only here to keep the peace but set my boundaries for the way I won’t tolerate being treated anymore. (Yes, I live with a hormonal teenage daughter too!!)

  4. Many women enter menopause after years of working outside the home while doing more than their fair share of meal planning, cleaning, and meeting the needs of partners and children. The menopausal hormone shift happens at the same time as women realize they are no longer willing to continue to ignore their own well-being. The anger is justified. The “treatment” is equity within the home and workplace.

    • What claptrap. Women getting angry is about the self justification and feminist shift of the last 30 years. Women and men make different choices in life. Since women live longer than men, they must not work as hard during their life.

  5. I am tired of everything being blamed on menopause. We are constantly reading articles about how awful it will be, and the huge range of symptoms we will experience, and lo and behold we have them all! Maybe we’re just cranky because people are annoying, or because we’re sick of injustice, discrimination and unfair domestic arrangements. Maybe we’re putting on weight because we eat more food than we need. Maybe we can’t sleep because we’re under stress, or we are just a bad sleeper. Things change at different stages of life and menopause doesn’t cause all of them. It’s not a medical condition, it’s a natural part of life!

  6. I think part of it comes with new confidence. We now feel empowered to express our anger and we care less about what others think. It’s great that we can be free enough to express anger when needed!

  7. I just don’t understand, my wife is so angry about everything all the time. I do most of the cooking and cleaning I pay all the bills and work 50 hours a week. She has a part time job that pays well and spends her money on God knows what. Besides me having to break down the boxes for recycling I seriously have no idea what she spends her money on but I have been talking to her about a 401k for years and she doesn’t have one. I have very little money left over after groceries, mortgage, health insurance and gas but she is always buying stuff. What I don’t understand is how a person that lives for free and has absolutely no responsibility can be so angry all the time about literally everything. This isn’t just me either this is most of the guys I work with wife’s as well. If the rolls were reversed I would have an actual reason to live besides people wanting me to work more so they could buy more stuff. Even through COVID I have made at least 7k more every year for the past 10 years but every extra dime I make is spent trying to keep a super angry person from having crazy anger outbursts. I’m to the point where I see a homeless guy and think, man this guys wife must have really sucked. Why are women so angry all the time? Why are they so demanding? Why are they so terrible to be around? Why do they feel so entitled? I love my wife we have been married for over 20 years but I don’t think I can take much more. I think I might just need to leave. From my point of view what I can see and how I feel after all these years is just that most women are really not nice people and they take advantage of everyone because they can then they blame everyone else but themselves for anything that goes wrong in their life and take zero responsibility for anything. If I knew what I know now when I was younger…. I don’t know? Things would be different.

    • Funny. I feel the exact same way. About my husband. And so all the women at work. Except he works way less than I, but he’s paid more. I spend all my money on all our expenses and he tells me I should save more. Hum… pay for some sh$ and do some chores and then that ´lil be more realistic.

    • Your wife is very fortunate to have husband like you. Perhaps you might take her to Doctor or physiatric. I am working full time job and have to manage all household chores i.e. cooking,cleaning laundry, dusting. I have took care a family of 6 husband, his parents, and two Daugters. I finally moved to a rented place for my sanity as I couldn’t take it any longer with having to do chores for 6 people. I am not completely okay but it’s still better as I now have to do chores for 4 people.

  8. Hey there! I just checked out the article on Ageist about why women can get so angry in midlife, and I found it to be such an insightful and helpful read. As someone approaching midlife, it’s always reassuring to know that the challenges I may face are not unique and that there are ways to cope with and overcome them.
    I appreciated how the article shed light on the factors that can contribute to midlife anger, such as hormonal changes and societal expectations. It’s great that the report offers practical tips and advice for managing these feelings and channelling them productively and healthily.
    The article also did a great job of emphasizing the importance of self-awareness and self-care. The author profoundly understands the challenges women can face during midlife and the strategies that can be used to overcome them.
    One question that came to mind while reading the article is: how can women experiencing midlife anger communicate their feelings effectively to others, such as partners or family members, without causing harm or conflict? Are there any specific communication techniques or strategies the author could recommend for having constructive and healthy conversations about midlife anger with loved ones? Thank you!

  9. Because she has to shift the blame to someone else. She will die bitter as a lemon. She has it in her head, that a man must make her happy. If no man did that, she will hate them all. Pretty simple minded, but that is the truth. Correct me if I am wrong. I do learn and accept other’s ideas.

  10. I found this article as I am nearing 42 and anytime the diet is low on some wholesome especially omegas and minerals, it’s tough and I get super impatient over react plain put irritable. I feel like women have it really complicated because just when we solve one battle something random comes up and try sleeping in a housing crunch market! My neighbour’s used to act so nosy I almost couldn’t sleep till I realized they were just nuts. I’ll be working on my anger and fed up personality before returning to a hormone expert. At least I don’t expect to dry out cuz I’m not a junk foodie. I appreciate reading everyone’s ideas. Life is definitely wild right now! I stand by the berries meantime

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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

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