Why do I feel like I’m Going Crazy in Perimenopause?

by Magnolia on July 1, 2013

Post image for Why do I feel like I’m Going Crazy in Perimenopause?

It is the most common thing I hear from women regarding perimenopause.

“I feel like I’m going crazy! What is wrong with me?”

And there are a variety of reasons why women might feel this way too.

Personally, I think the primary reason is the simple “craziness” of perimenopause in general.

The wacky mood swings, depression, rages, inability to sleep, laughing one minute, crying the next, and all at an intensity that is too hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through it.

Never mind trying to get your spouse to understand.

Physically, however, there are a few symptoms of perimenopause which probably scare women more than others, leading us to believe we’ve finally fallen off the turnip wagon.

Mood Swings

For me, mood swings were the “grand mal” symptom.  They were so intense, and I felt so completely out of control (and frankly, I was), that I was certain I was losing every last semblance of sanity I ever had.

For someone like me, never accused of being a wilting wall flower, and who has spent her entire life bulldozing through any obstacle that might have the misfortune of being in my way, this lack of control was emotionally and psychologically eviscerating.

I’m also certain that my emotional and mental duress over my inability to control or stop what was happening to me, made the mood swings even more debilitating.

What Causes Mood Swings?

In the most basic terms, it is the very turbulent shift (rising and falling) in estrogen and progesterone levels that causes mood swings – particularly the raging part.  Much like the years of PMS (remember those?), when estrogen levels rise and progesterone levels fall, it affects your mood profoundly.

Estrogen is a wonderful hormone, and when in balance does wonderful things for women.  But, when estrogen levels are too high, as they often are for women going through perimenopause, raging mood swings (among many other symptoms) are often the result.

Adrenal Fatigue & Thyroid Dysfunction

Let me tell you something: I had no earthly idea that women going through perimenopause could also suffer from adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction.  But we can.  In fact, these two secondary issues are often the culprit in causing and intensifying many of the symptoms of perimenopause.

Such as: crashing fatigue, heart palpitations, panic attacks, vertigo and dizziness, bolting awake from a sound sleep hyperventilating, and a racing heart.

You know, maybe crashing fatigue is not a symptom which most women would associate with “feeling like I’m going crazy.” But heart palpitations?  Panic attacks? Vertigo and dizziness?  Bolting awake in the middle of the night with your heart racing and hyperventilating?

I should say so.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue & Thyroid Dysfunction?

Again, in most basic terms, adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands are called upon too much in order to help us cope with daily stress and demands (in other words, too much on our plate and we’re stressed out); and when our thyroid hormones (TSH, T4, & T3) become out of balance, thyroid dysfunction (either hypo or hyperthyroidism) is the result.

Both adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction can contribute to and exacerbate perimenopause symptoms.  Vertigo and dizziness, for example, are associated with hypothyroidism, and heart palpitations and panic attacks are associated with both adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction as well.

So let me say it again, ladies, you are not going crazy in perimenopause.  It only feels that way, and you can thank some of these symptoms for it too.  The important thing is to understand that “this too shall pass.”

It really will.  And while I can’t promise you that this aging thing and menopause is “all that.”  It’s certainly a lot better than perimenopause.  So, while you may be suffering mightily with those perimenopause symptoms right now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s called menopause.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
No TweetBacks yet. (Be the first to Tweet this post)

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Grandma Bonnie July 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Although some spouses are more sensitive to menopausal issues I don’t think any spouse can understand fully what we are going through. It sure is nice to have some understanding company through the rough spots though.

Reply

Karen D. Austin July 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

When I started perimenopause the fall of 2011, my younger siblings told me to see a shrink. After a couple of months, my moods evened out again. Give them a few years, and they’ll “get it.”

Reply

Yvette L. Gentry July 10, 2013 at 11:31 am

It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of panic disorder, because so many factors are involved (emotional and physical problems, traumatic events, and so forth). But because women are twice as likely to suffer from panic disorder as men, most commonly during PMS, pregnancy, and menopause, doctors have come to conclude that hormones are typically the underlying cause. During menopause, the vital female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone rapidly decline, which has a major affect on women’s mood as well as their bodies. Low estrogen can cause panic disorder during menopause for two reasons: declining level of estrogen and declining levels of progesterone.

Reply

Magnolia July 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

Hello Yvettte,

Thank you for your comment. I haven’t run into any doctors who believe that panic attacks or panic disorder are hormonally induced. If what you say is true, I’m encouraged. My experience has been that women are treated as if they have psychiatric disorders in stead.

Magnolia

Reply

kathy March 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

My anxiety has been heightened since perimenopause. The doctors are ill-informed about this issue, so their huge egos dismiss it. I have not had anxiety issues for many years prior to peri, despite my bipolar diagnosis. Yes, it sucks, but it is hormonal unless you are going through other problems.

Reply

Fruitloopz July 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I actually have an appt with a psychiatrist on Monday..can’t stand the panic attacks and anxiety! How bad is it to resort to medication? I feel like I’m “giving in” but can’t imagine living like this anymore.

Reply

Magnolia July 14, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hi Fruitloopz,

I hated typing that name out to answer you. But, I didn’t see anything else that indicated a real name. But, to answer your question, no, I do not believe it is “bad” to resort to medication if that is what you feel like you need to do.

I personally wish there were more clear cut and straight answers to the issues of hormone imbalance for women so we wouldn’t be so confused and frustrated by all of this. But, unfortunately, there are not. It’s a war zone out there trying to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong and what the best course of action is for these stupid symptoms.

I can tell you this, however, you are not losing your mind or actually going crazy. It just feels that way. The panic attacks and anxiety could be attributed to a lot of things. Adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction can both cause those symptoms. Have you had any blood work done? Have you seen anyone for your symptoms at all?

Perhaps after your visit to your mental health provider, you can check in with your primary care physician or perhaps even an endocrinologist to see about having your blood work done?

Magnolia

Reply

Lynee July 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I am soooo happy to have found your blog. I feel like hormones are making life unbearable right now!!! I am 47 and have been experiencing many of the symptoms of peri for about the last three years.. Oddly enough , I’ve never had a hot flash, but constantly feel “off” in some way.’ The worst symptoms for me right now are vertigo/dizzy feeling and anxiety. I just want the carousel to stop so that I can get off!! Lol My Dr. Just prescribed yam based progesterone (50mg to start) and Xanax if needed. I’ve only been on it for 10 days and it started my period early , so no relief yet!!!!! I want to feel a little relief, as all of this is impacting my daily life. At times, I don’t want to leave the house because I fear passing out or getting sick in public. I try to remember to breath and relax, but nothing works!!!

Reply

what's going on!!?? :( July 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Hi,

I am a 41 yr old, healthy woman, who’s always had
regular periods & also have my tubes tied for 16 yrs.
It’s been 7 weeks since my last period, I’ve gone through 4
negative pregnancy tests. I’ve felt “off”, verrrry crampy &
nausea. I came across your blog & it kind of makes sense. Doc appt
made, 6 weeks from now. Ugh! I’m still thinking in the back of my mind,
“could I be pregnant still?”

Reply

Magnolia July 25, 2013 at 7:32 am

Hi Wendy,

When I first started going through perimenopause, I was convinced I was pregnant month after month as I kept missing periods. But, alas, I wasn’t. It was just the changing of my hormones. However, you can’t rule it out. So, definitely follow up with your doctor to make sure. I had my third child at 43. So, it’s definitely not out of the question at 41!

Magnolia

Reply

Dorothea Bentley August 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

People who have panic disorder suffer from unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear known as panic attacks. Symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, tingling, dizziness, or abdominal pain. They may feel a sense of impending doom as the panic attack intensifies. Taking these facts into account, it’s easy to see why hyperthyroidism is confused with panic disorder. The two conditions have similar symptoms, and both emerge in young adulthood. But if you have a family or personal history of thyroid disease, you might want to ask for a thyroid test before getting officially diagnosed with panic disorder. Hyperthyroidism can also exacerbate panic disorder.

Reply

tina skellett August 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I am 57. Still getting periods every 28-30 days. Last few days am getting palpitations, low mood, anxiety, negative thoughts, wake at night with heaviness in my chest and can’t breath deeply sort of. Tend to be shallow breathing. I cry at anything too. It is hard trying to carry on the 2 jobs i do. I am sensitive to hurtful things my kids say too. Should i see about my heart and breathing? Do you think is perimenopause? Please give me some advice?

Reply

Reg lee August 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I’m 45 yrs old going through very bad mood swings one minute I’m mad the next crying and so on, my husband does understand, he doesn’t help my mood swings I really need surport from him most of all peri isn’t a nice thing to go through. I think horrible thoughts in my head. He tells me Im crazy and need help and he wants me to be happy he can’t deal with my moods and live like this anymore. How can I start making him its my hormones and I am happy just going though this peri menopause

Reply

Jan December 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I am 41 and feel like I am goin insane, I hav horrible thoughts aswell in my head, I hav seen 2 docs and they both say I am stressed, they hav given me anti-depressants which I am scared to take because he said I wud feel worse at first when I start them, I can’t imagine feeling any worse! I cry all the time, feel anxious and nervous, I hav been off work for 6 weeks now and really need to go back, the doc says I am not perimenopausal because I hav had one blood test for my hormones and it’s Normal, I had a period out of the blue last week and I never hav periods because I hav the marina coil fitted, I just do not no wot to take or do or see to help myself feel normal again!

Reply

Magnolia December 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Jan,

I can assure you that you WILL feel normal again. It takes time and it is a difficult path through perimenopause for so many women. But, you’re not crazy, you’re not GOING crazy, and it won’t last forever. I took antidepressants during my years of perimenopause because I was desperate to feel better. The truth is, they didn’t help me. I wouldn’t take hormones because I was afraid too. Knowing what I know now, I wish that I would have gone through what I needed to go through to get the dosage right for bioidentical hormones.

And can I said, it is not unusual for women to be told they are not in perimenopause and that their bloodwork is “normal” I hope you will not take no for an answer and find a physician who is willing to at least *try* and help you. You are not too young either. I was 41 when I started perimenopause.

Magnolia

Reply

tobi January 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I am experiencing many of the same things you all are and after thousands of blood, spit test and medication including homeopathic tincture trials I find that Licorice plus has the best mix of both worlds. It has affected both adrenal fatigue and hormone issues for me. Also after 32 years of smoking I have gone to the vapor electric smoke devise and have not smoked for 6 weeks. good luck

Reply

kerry January 11, 2014 at 3:40 am

I’m on patches at the moment but they don’t last that long before wearing off once this happens I’m in real trouble I think I’m going over the edge and not coming back my head is that numb and in term oil how long do I have to put up with this for I can’t take it much longer

Reply

Magnolia January 11, 2014 at 9:31 am

Kerry,

The thing about perimenopause is that it makes you “feel” like you’re losing control, but of course, you are not. It does pass eventually.

Magnolia

Reply

Christine January 27, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Hi, I think I am experiencing extreme perimenopause. I am 46 and have been dealing with severe menstrual bleeding for the past 5 years. But the past 9 months have been horrible for me. I am basically bedridden with extreme fatigue and awful symptoms. I can’t think straight, I have terrible bloating and bowel problems, severe weakness. I am hot all the time. I don’t seem to get hot flashes, but am just hot throughout the day. I actually sleep with a thin blanket and a floor fan…and it’s 10 degrees out!! I have been to multiple doctors and have had tons of tests and everything comes back normal. I have asked for my hormones to be checked and they just won’t do it. My GP said if I was really going through the “change” then I would be getting hot flashes. After that statement I knew he was not versed in perimenopause because not everyone gets hot flashes. Is it really possible to feel this bad? I feel sick everyday…no breaks at all. There are days that I feel like I’m literally dying. It helps to know that others feel this too…although I don’t wish this on anyone. Why can’t I just be one of those women who breeze through it!

Reply

Yeye Vivas February 2, 2014 at 12:32 am

So reassuring to know I am not the only know who feels all the things you described in the blog. Hallelujah!!! Have been experiencing a lot of stress from work the last quarter of 2013. Good thing, I was really due for a complete hormone test last weekof January. The result showed that I have hypothyroid thus the reason I am experiencing all the symptoms you wrote about. At least I know that I am not going crazy. I am just going thru perimens and thyroid dysfunction. I just have to remind myself : a day at a time. It is a blessing to finally find a doctor here in the Philippines who is very knowledgeable about the Bio Identical Hormone Replacement. In the past, doctors just sadly dismissed my worst perimens symptoms as “all in my head.” Looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Reply

Kathy February 8, 2014 at 9:44 am

Since my last period last month I have been living in hell! I haven’t been myself since. I went in and saw my Gyn and he said you need a hysterectomy because of the heavy periods. Went in and saw my primary care and said I feel like I’m going crazy, am I going through menopause. She said I was stressed out and she gave me an rx for an anti depressant and some ativan for anxiety. The anti depressant sent me to a dark place so did not continue and the ativan didn’t help much either. So I called my Drs. nurse and said, hey I still don’t feel right. She said take your ativan. I asked for additional blood work to make sure nothing was missed but never heard back from the drs office. {The sad thing is I work at this drs office} Woke up one morning and felt totally out of it. I was convinced I was crazy! Drove myself in the snow to the nearest ER and was in the midst of a panic attack. They took me back and I was lucky enough to have a wonderful male nurse who talked to me and assured me I am not going crazy. Unfortunately he said there isn’t a test that proves you are in menopause and the ER is really for life threatening issues. They gave me something for anxiety and sent me home, Next morning same thing! I drove myself to the ER. This time they had me speak to a social worker to figure out what I should do. I was put on a different anti depressant and it seems to be helping a bit. Haven’t had a trip to the ER at least. Also made it to work, Tried to make an appointment to see my Dr and her office said she was to full. So I have decided to find another Dr. My symptoms are real and something is malfunctioning just like if I were a diabetic or have high blood pressure. To bad there isn’t a dr out there who specializes in menopause issues. BTW hot flashes are not like you see on tv where women are fanning themselves. I felt like my body was on fire!

Reply

Angela February 16, 2014 at 11:14 am

What a comfort to read all these posts. I am so sorry that we are all dealing with these crazy issues, but I too have been having the following symptoms for a long time, crying at the drop of a hat, irritable, terrible gerd and nausea, heart papa, insomnia, burning sensation on the inside of my body, extreme dizziness, ringing in ears, balance problems, fatigue, vaginal dryness, brittle hair, and just an overall ill feeling. I have missed so much work because of all this and I am 42. I was tested a couple years ago and was told my hormone levels were normal as we’ll. I can get any advice from my mom about what age she started peri, because she had a complete hystereomy at age 32. I do a lot of praying and meditating on scriptures. And this helps me a lot. I wish everyone better days ahead and I too know that this too shall pass……

Reply

jennifer February 18, 2014 at 8:47 am

Hello everyone, like you I am and have been feeling very I’ll with all my symptoms of peri. Some seem to escalate from one day to the next. Right now my main symptoms are gerd like. Some days are bad and some days are jus debilitating. The burning and pain, nausea, dizziness, quivering insides, nervousness, fullness in my head and ears, headaches, body and joint pain, tention congestion, forgetfulness, tearfullness, extremely tired my list goes on and on it seems. I have had anxiety most of my achy life and even though it’s bad I think I would rather deal with those over what I’m going through now. This stuff is crazy!! I cannot take HRT because I had a bloodclot in my past due to an injury. So I have been trying to wing it. Trying supplements which I haven’t found any that have worked for me. I heard primrose tablets might help. I am so tired and broke from buying all the vitamins and teas and supplements that I’m just getting tired of trying. What’s a women to do?? That is the question and like so many I am finding no answers. I have read everything I can but to no avail. I guess if if don’t do me in I’ll make it to the otherside eventually. Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful journey through this “change” Big Warm Hugs, Jen

Reply

Gabrielle Womack April 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm

You might consider getting a thyroid panel done. Sounds like you are going through perimenapause and thyroid issues. I had all the symptoms you have and found out I had hypothyroid and perimenapause. The symptoms mimic each other making it more intense. Good luck.

Reply

kathy March 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I am bipolar, going through perimenopause and just had surgery to remove cancer, now cancer free. My anxiety is so bad. I’ m guessing it is normal!

Reply

Magnolia March 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

High estrogen and low progesterone have been associated with anxiety during perimenopause, Kathy.

Magnolia

Reply

Patricia April 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

Hi Magnolia,
I am so so happy I was able to read your blogs and all the above posts.
I’m going through this hell right now, I’m 45, lost my husband 4 years ago and raising 3 young kids with not much support, also working full time.
I clearly entered perimenopause shortly after having my tubes tied,but it became worse 2 years ago. I have mood swings and bouts of depresion and helplessness. Losing control and snapping at the children with huge feelings of guilt afterwards.. I am thankful to hear now that it’s going to be okay eventually.
My question is ” when?” For how long does this craziness last?
I’m on my third month of natural progesterone cream and also started 5 HTP.
Not much improvement yet but it’s early days.
thanks for helping one like me with your information and share of experience ! xx

Reply

Penae April 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm

I have been having these symptoms for 3 years. I,am 47 years old. I have 2 grown daughters and a husband I have been married to for 28 years. They do not understand at all. I,am so tired of feeling this way. My family call me crazy all the time. I feel so helpless. I lost my brother this past August of cancer so my depression and anxiety have became even worse. And the hot flashes are terrible. I keep thinking its going to get betterbut 3 years is a longtime.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: