Any woman who's experienced a bad bout of PMS knows the havoc it can create. Irrational anger, sudden irritability, long crying spells -- hormones can make you a little nuts.
Some women report mood swings and irritability during perimenopause, but it's hard to tell if it's hormones that are causing it or side effects of other symptoms, like a lack of sleep (which makes anyone cranky).
There is quite a bit of controversy in the medical community about whether depression is more common in perimenopausal and menopausal women. Some studies have shown a mood upswing in response to hormonal treatment of depression in perimenopausal women, suggesting that there's a link between this phase in life and the development of an affective disorder [source: Khine, et al.]
In general, however, women older than 45 are less likely to be depressed than women who are reproductively younger [source: Harvard Women's Health Watch]. It's important to know that depression is not a natural part of the aging process.
A woman's personal experience during perimenopause is very much her own. Some women feel irritable, anxious or depressed. Others feel just fine. If you're in the former group, talk to someone who can help you evaluate your health and manage stress.
On the next page, we'll discuss another symptom that may be affected by stress -- but can also stress you out.