Mood Swings After Age 40 – Why They Happen, and What You Can Do

Julie Kucinski

by | Updated: December 9th, 2022 | Read time: 4 minutes

Welcome to your forties. Your career’s in its prime, the chaos of young adulthood is over, and you’re more confident in who you are than ever.

So everything’s rosy. Right? Right???!!

Surprise! Many women are surprised to find themselves more irritable, more fried, more down or more all of the above in their forties than they had been.

So if that’s you, you’re not alone. And it’s probably not about you. Here are some reasons why, and many relate back to hormonal changes.

Upset Woman on Couch Burying Head in Hands Wondering What Causes Mood Swings

Your hormones are shifting, even if your cycle Isn’t

Pregnancies after age 35 are termed “geriatric.” While seemingly rude, it marks the fact that our hormones typically start downshifting around that time. It’s natural to start to feel and function differently than the relative hormonal predictability of your twenties and thirties.

By your early forties—if not sooner—progesterone and estrogen levels are shifting, typically in erratic ways. It’s not a smooth, downward glide (more of a bucking bronco ride that can last years and follows no set pattern). This is likely happening, even if the idea of menopause is still far, far away and you don’t see more obvious signs like changing periods or hot flashes for quite some time.

Let’s take a look at what often happens to create those up-and-down moods.

What causes mood swings?

Dropping progesterone

Progesterone is the “chill” hormone. It helps us calm, sleep and have more regular cycles and less PMS. It often downshifts first, so you’ll see those changes happen first.

Erratic or dominant estrogen

Higher relative levels of estrogen mean a little more code red. There’s often an irritability factor that can come with this, as well as PMS levels and discomfort that feel junior high level again.

Poor sleep

Forty of midlife women have trouble sleeping four nights a week. Less quality sleep means a shorter fuse, higher distractibility, more sugar and caffeine cravings. And consequently, more energy and mood crashes.

Triple-decker sandwich generation

Aging parents, demanding career, wild world events, existential dread, emotional labor and often children still at home (and increasingly, young children at that). Is it surprising that American women over 40 are the #1 market for antidepressants on earth? The pressures on us are not all hormonal.

Flagging gut health

The gut or microbiome is often called our second brain, and studies have shown its influence on serotonin, melatonin, GABA and other good mood and good sleep neurotransmitters.

Our gut slows down with dropping estrogen, and gut health can be compromised in this era. If you’re not taking care of your gut yet, now is the time!

So, what can you do to prevent mood swings?

Spend time in nature every day

Ideally, spending time outdoors with sunlight is a part of your overall wellness strategy. Try to get outside as early in the day as possible. This is a proven mood booster, with outdoor walking and exposure to direct sunlight offering multiple benefits. (Be sure to wear sunscreen!)

Find sleep aids that work

It’s easy to say get more sleep — but much harder to actually do it. The key is to find the regimen or routine that works for your life and body. Our Wile Un-Worry tincture works for many as a pre-sleep aid or to keep on the nightstand to take a few full droppers if you wake up at 3 a.m. (interrupted sleep is often an issue in your forties).

Switch to moderate exercise that doesn’t add to your cortisol load

Some say heart-pounding HIIT classes and intense cardio adds to your cortisol load and overall stress and recommend yoga, weight training and long walks or swimming instead.

Tap into hormonal support

Hormonal health after age 40 is its own thing and one that’s only recently gotten much attention. We recommend our Wile Perimenopause Support for every woman after 40. It works with the endocrine, adrenal and nervous systems to bring about more broad-based support whether you’re feeling perimenopause is happening or just to get ahead of symptoms and bring your systems into the healthiest baseline.

Find positive mood support

Alcohol, sugar, shopping, work — any vice of choice can work in moderation. To provide an alternative, Wile tinctures were developed by a naturopathic physician based on decades of experience. These herbal concentrates provide adaptogenic and plant-based support in the moment and can create a positive habit loop whenever and wherever stress strikes.

Burnout Relief, Un-Anger and Un-Worry are designed around common stress responses. Our mother’s generation might have lit a cigarette, but it’s easier now to make better choices.

Don’t blame yourself

Beating yourself up serves no one. Know that these swings are normal and expected. In fact, the “low” of overall happiness for women and men is age 47. Bring up your baselines with these tips, and when you find yourself feeling in full ERGH! mode, check in, breathe deep and remind yourself it’s not you, it’s your hormones, hectic life and this wild world.

Featured Products

Wile 40+ Period Support Capsule
Wile Un-Anger Tincture
Wile Perimenopause Support Capsule