What Causes Irritability In Menopause?

June 9, 2009

Irritability is frequently the main presenting complaint of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women; yet, studies specifically researching on irritability in this population are lacking.

As it remains controversial whether mood symptoms related to menopause are independently associated with hormonal changes or whether they are secondary to vasomotor or other bothersome symptoms of menopause, such as insomnia. This study aims to assess irritability in either perimenopausal or postmenopausal women, to look for possible associations with vasomotor symptoms, insomnia and chronic disease, and to explore possible hormonal links with sex steroids, gonadotrophins, prolactin and thyroid hormones. A total of 163 peri- and postmenopausal women, non-hormonal therapy or tibolone users, attending a menopause clinic were included in this cross-sectional study.

The subjects completed the Irritability, Depression, Anxiety Scale, which is an 18-item self-report scale that assesses irritability as a temporary psychological state. Irritability is divided into ‘outwardly directed’ if it is expressed toward others and ‘inwardly directed’ if it is directed toward oneself. Climacteric symptoms were evaluated by Greene’s scale, which provides subscores for vasomotor symptoms. Insomnia was measured by the Athens Insomnia Scale. Chronic disease refers to the existence of hypertension, , diabetes mellitus or thyroid disease.

The study sample consisted of 163 women, with a mean age of 55.1 years (SD = 5.7). Of the total sample, 124 women were postmenopausal and 26 perimenopausal. Fifty-four women suffered from chronic disease. The mean score for inward irritability was 5.1 (SD = 2.4) and 5.9 (SD = 2.7) for outward irritability. The mean scores for inward and outward irritability, insomnia and vasomotor symptoms were not different between peri- and postmenopausal women (analysis of covariance, p > 0.05). A significant positive correlation was found between outward irritability and FSH (r = 0.25,p = 0.005) and LH levels (r = 0.26, p = 0.006). There was no significant association between inward irritability and hormonal levels. No significant relationships were detected between vasomotor symptoms, insomnia and menopausal status and the 2 subscales of irritability.

Multiple linear regression analysis indicated that women with chronic disease had a significantly higher score on both the inward and the outward irritability scales, with effect sizes equal to 44.6 and 40.0%, respectively. Furthermore, in the multivariable model outward irritability was associated both with increased levels of FSH and LH, with effect sizes for a 20-unit increase equal to 22.2 and 37.0%, respectively. Outward and inward irritability of peri- and was found to be related to chronic disease, a factor that is not specific to menopause but may be partially influenced by the older age of menopausal women. Outwardly directed irritability was found to be related to FSH and LH levels.

There are no data supporting a possible direct association between FSH and LH and the expression of outward irritability. However, as FSH and LH are markers of ovarian aging and menopause, the results of this study may give an indication of a link between outward irritability and menopause.

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not rated yet Jun 09, 2009
LOL OK, lets create a great drug that thwarts the fallout for this major shift in hormones, reproductive status and increasing aging hallmarks that are more profound in women than men! Hysterical females are a big problem, n'est pas?

Could it possibly be that women merely run out of the never ending patience they must exercise in their roles in their family and society? These shifts and chronic disease also affect sleep, MBRs slow and the battle of weight gain ramps up as a result. Society busily heralds celebrity aging women who continue to look and act like 20 somethings as desirable, never mind the tens of thousands spent for plastic surgery botox and spa treatments. Aging naturally increasingly is made ugly. Women who can't afford or will not buy into these trends are irritated! ;-) Testosterone becomes a larger player in the female hormonal system after menopause. Could it be that contributes to more aggressive behaviors?

What of male counterparts who become anti-social curmudgeons or upgrade their cars and their wives to feed their egos? (not all of them of course just like not all women become irritable in the extreme) I'd like to see some research and a big hormone pill for THAT! SOME become the hormonal equivalent to teen-aged boys complete with judgment dysfunction and increases in risk taking, what hormonal shifts can be attributed to that?

Its an interesting study, this writer does not mean to minimize the research. However, the aging process with titanic hormonal shifts, the social shifts, the life roles shifts and a plethora of other external environmental factors may also account for the potential and may increase the affect of emotional responses. In life course its the backside of puberty, retrograded but just as profound in a relatively short period of time.

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