Do you sometimes feel like flying into a rage, or have you already done so? Where did that feeling come from? What’s going on? Have perimenopause and menopause turned you into a shrew?
It’s time to take a deep breath. Let’s explore the phenomenon of menopause and rage together.
What is rage?
Rage and anger are similar emotions and terms that some people use interchangeably. However, they are not the same. While anger is a feeling someone has when they believed they have been wronged, put down, or belittled, rage can be considered to be an action someone takes to retaliate against the person or thing that triggered the anger. Rage, therefore, may be viewed as an extreme expression of anger.
One common example is road rage. If someone cuts you off in traffic, you may feel anger and perhaps yell and make a hand gesture. A person who becomes enraged by being cut off, however, may try to run the other person off the road or shoot at them.
How is rage associated with menopause?
Rage may become apparent in perimenopause, and we can blame changing hormone levels for this emotion. It may manifest as extreme irritation or a feeling of resentment that rises quickly and unexpectedly. You may notice you have little to no patience and that even seemingly small things trigger rage. Some experts have suggested that women who experienced significant premenstrual symptoms earlier in life are more likely to experience severe mood swings—including rage--in perimenopause.
Rage in perimenopause can occur because of estrogen changes. As levels of this hormone fluctuate and decline, they impact the production of the mood hormone, serotonin. Less estrogen means less serotonin—and an imbalanced estrogen:serotonin ratio--and the result can be wide-swinging emotions, including rage. Such strong feelings can come and go for some time until your body can better adjust to the hormone changes.
Progesterone can play a role as well. As levels decline during perimenopause, estrogen may become dominant, resulting in intense emotions and episodes of rage.
Another factor in rage are other menopause symptoms. If you are overly tired, experiencing insomnia and hot flashes, losing your sex drive, feeling anxious and depressed, and putting on extra pounds, these situations can fuel feelings of rage.
How to manage rage in menopause naturally
You can learn to manage rage in perimenopause and menopause. Here are some tips to help return balance to your emotions.
Don’t deny it. Women have been taught to suppress their anger or hide it, even from themselves. Research shows that stuffing away your anger is not healthy, as it can result in depression. Accept your feelings and realize they are related to how your body is changing. They are not who you are, but simply how you are feeling at the moment.
Consider counseling. Talking with a counselor or therapist who works with women in menopause and/or anger management can be a good outlet for your feelings as well as a source of management tools. Ask your healthcare provider for referrals or contact your local hospital or clinic.
Breathe. An effective way to ground yourself and calm your rage is to do deep breathing. Angry breathing is shallow; deep, calm breathing is healing. Practice deep breathing whenever necessary.
Identify your triggers. What contributes to your feelings of anxiety that then can evolve into rage? If you keep a journal of your emotions and episodes of anger and rage and the precipitating events over a period of a week or two, you will have an account of your triggers. Everything from too much caffeine to sleep deprivation, dehydration, too much sugary foods, stress at work, hot flashes, and more can be triggers.
Meditate and more. Meditation, visualization, yoga, and tai chi are calming mind-body approaches that can help you reach internal balance. Incorporate at least one such mindful practice into your daily routine.
Evaluate. When you feel your anger increasing, headed toward rage, put on the brakes and evaluate the situation. Does the situation warrant the level of emotion you are directing at it? When you stop to evaluate the circumstances and are mindful of your feelings, you will be better able to respond appropriately.
Channel your emotions. Anger and rage take a lot of energy! What if you channeled that energy into tennis, walking, dancing, painting, singing, playing an instrument, gardening, or another creative outlet? Refocusing your emotions can be very healing.
When to call your doctor
If you feel out of control and your rage is disrupting your life, see your physician as soon as possible. Unmanaged rage and other damaging emotions can be detrimental to your physical health as well.
Some women begin to experience rage during perimenopause, and it can be a damaging symptom for physical, emotional, and mental health. Taking conscientious steps to manage and dispel rage is possible with patience.