Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What Causes Mood Swings in Men?

The National Mental Health Information Center reports that mood swings are a form of mental disorder that affects millions of Americans each year. Although mood disorders can be a serious mental illness, they are treatable. Environmental factors and/or chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to a person's mood swings. If left untreated, chronic mood swings can become debilitating.

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Mood Swings at Andropause

There is a common knowledge that women get severe mood swings while at menopause, and the family members, friends and coworkers usually are able to accept these changes with understanding and patience. Until recently, men’s mood swings were not considered as character traits, which have any excuse to be tolerated. Now mood swings, commonly associated with female menopause, are now also being more accepted as a common side effect of male menopause as well. These symptoms that keep coming up time and time again are a natural part of the aging process, with men reporting a loss of drive at work and at play, feeling nothing is of use anymore and losing interest in hobbies and previous favorite past times.

The burn out, which can be physical and emotional, is backed by lack of motivation, enthusiasm and vitality experienced by andropausal men due to reduced hormone production during Andropause. Depression too, is a common complaint.

Many men feel emotional highs and lows during Andropause and these mood swings or ‘feeling down’ in certain cases can go beyond the occasional bouts of irritability and frustration to more severe problems like clinical depression, if not checked in time.

Doctors suggest that the loss of assertiveness and confidence due to bodily changes like increased body fat and decreased muscle tone, sleep problems and memory loss/difficulty in concentration that men go through during Andropause are symptoms that combine to cause mood swings.

The change in self image and perceived social image can cause andropausal men to feel uncertain about themselves and actual physical dysfunction may precipitate the mood swings as a loss of libido creeps up on patients- a touchy topic for all men needing to feel and be virile.

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Mood Swings Symptoms

When men suffer from mood swings, they’re likely to display one or more of the symptoms listed below.

Unreasonable Censure

Men could consider their mood swings inexplicable but because of their nature, they will do their best to find a reason for it. Unless they’ve been properly diagnosed, they’re liable to blame others for their mood swings. Now, if there’s absolutely no other person to blame for their condition then men would usually resort to blaming themselves.

Anger and Irritability

Mood swings also make people more irritable and quicker to anger than usual. Mood swings are exhausting because it requires you to feel more than usual. One moment you’re happy, the next moment you’re down, and feeling like this several times a day certainly won’t make anyone feel good.

Creating and Avoiding Conflict

Mood swings make men feel unbalanced and unable to control their emotions. Because of this, they are more prone to create or avoid conflict, depending on the situation. If they feel they’re unable to cope with a problem then they’re likely to sweep it under the rug rather than face it head on. Then again, they can choose to alleviate their frustrations by creating conflicts instead.

Poor Sleeping Habits

Last but not the least, sleep is also affected by mood swings. Men could seek sleep excessively in order to avoid mood swings. On the other hand, men could also suffer from sleep deprivation because of mood swings.

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Causes of Mood Swings

The most significant concern, or even crisis stage, for andropausal men is when they have to deal with unanticipated physical and psychological changes as knowledge about Andropause is very limited for the average male.

Mood swings in men are generally related to the hormonal misbalance during male menopause. Actually, it is caused by high levels of cortisol and low levels of testosterone in their organisms. Cortisol is a stress hormone and normal cortisol levels ensure that you are able to handle stress without letting stress affect our health. Medical experts explain that men are relatively poor in handling stress in daily life, comparing with women, and so high levels of cortisol hormone secretion in men causes harm to muscles and bones and increases fat content in the body. Excess cortisol also affects the functioning of testosterone in the body and this eventually results in increased body fat and difficulty in handling stress.  Due to the lack of bio-available testosterone during Andropause, men have lowered amounts in their blood. Therefore, tissues in the body that are stimulated by testosterone receive lower than normal doses and various physical and possibly mental changes occur - primary ones being mood swings or fatigue.

Testosterone is produced naturally and it is a very good mood stabilizer. However, the absence of it can cause several damages and also cause depression and anxiety. Even slightly low levels can actually trigger the mood swings and unpredictable behavior in affected men.

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Mood Swings not related to Andropause

While this post primary deals with medical conditions, associated with male menopause, we would like to mention other possible causes of the mood swings, which require careful medical attention, as they may be just the symptoms of the severe medical illnesses.

Bipolar Disorder

The primary symptoms of the mania and depression associated with bipolar disorder include both behavioral and mood changes. People with bipolar disorder can experience long periods of manic and depressive episodes. Sometimes the episodes are so severe that they interfere with the individual's activities of daily living. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, although most individuals who have a family history of bipolar disorder do not develop the mental illness, they are four to six times more likely to suffer the disorder if they have a parent or sibling who has it. Men with bipolar disorder may also abuse alcohol or drugs and have relationship problems.


Maria Collazo-Clavell, M.D., an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic, points out that extreme fluctuation in blood sugar levels can contribute to changes in mood, which people with diabetes may experience. Check your blood sugar level on a routine basis, but especially when you notice a mood change. Talk to your doctor if mood swings persist or occur often. Your medication may need to be adjusted.

Other causes

Mood swings can occur as a symptom of psychiatric disorders, besides bipolar disorder, we mentioned above, like borderline personality disorder, or they may result from a medical condition that directly affects the central nervous system, such as dementia, brain tumors, meningitis, and stroke. Mood swings can also result from conditions that deprive the brain of nutrients and oxygen, such as lung and cardiovascular diseases. Substance abuse and medication side effects are other potential causes of mood swings.

Treatment of Andropausal Mood Swings

If you feel that you have severe mood swings, that it is not like you, get alarmed to talk to your doctor. You may suspect that the reason is related to your andropause, but you need to be absolutely sure that your mood swings do not point to other than hormones fluctuation, medical condition. It may be easily treatable if you catch it early, and it may be deadly, if you catch it too late.

As far as you are confident that the mood swings are related to male menopause, follow the general recommendations on how to deal with this condition. However, most health experts agree that the mood swings andropausal men go through can also be largely affected by other symptoms like loss of fertility and decreased libido, sleep problems, hot flashes, increase in body weight and muscle loss. Diagnosing the causes and underlying conditions that are controllable can help treat mood swings and keep them at a minimum during Andropause - and stop you from turning the grumpy old man syndrome into a horrible reality for yourself and your loved ones.

Remember, if you got it, you are not along. Mood swings have been reported by many Andropause patients and in some cases they were reported in package with mild depression, say medical health experts working to raise awareness about male menopause at the national level. Unfortunately, there are no known studies to compare rates of depression in the pre-Andropause and post-Andropause stages in men, though the mood swings associated with changes in testosterone levels can be treated with testosterone implants readily available now.

Patients feeling low in spirits have been helped to alleviate mood swings through antidepressants but the best remedy still remains as open discussions and psychological counseling to bring back feelings of self- worth.

Good nutrition, health active lifestyle, comforting atmosphere at home, stress relieving techniques, and proper awareness of the causes and effects are the best ways to deal with the enemy. In many cases, you can win without medicines and hormone replacement therapy. However, if the conditions are severe, talk to your doctor on possibilities of applying the heavy medical artillery.

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