Although not readily acknowledged, men can experience as many mood swings as women. In the younger age groups, these phases of mood may be due to transient experiences -- but in middle aged men, hormones have a larger influence on mood. While women experience mood swings due to menopause, perhaps less well known is the male correlate, andropause, or the lessening of testosterone due to age. Signs of male andropause can include short temper, sadness, aggressive outbursts and mood swings.
With age, both men and women experience increases in cortisol, a hormone that helps with stress management. At the same time men are producing more cortisol, they are producing less testosterone. Because many men are unaware of the phenomena of andropause, they do not understand, or may be in denial about, their mood swings. This denial makes them difficult to approach.
Subtly educate. Learn that loss of testosterone may lead to low energy levels, loss of libido, muscle aches, flushing and depression -- all of which are symptoms that may exacerbate mood swings. Be prepared to answer any questions if he introduces the topic. If he becomes defensive or challenging you can say that you ran across the information and found it interesting.
Let him know that you are there to support him. If you are going through menopause yourself, there can be mutual support and understanding. Share your own experiences or those of someone you know, either male or female, that has experienced hormonally related mood swings.
Testosterone treatment, while viable, is not the only option. Many of the diet changes helpful as women age are also helpful to men such as eating more soy, fruits and vegetables, especially tomato products, which have been found to lower blood pressure. Encourage less fatty foods as part of his regular diet -- and drinking ample water is always healthy option.
You may want to learn more about stress management, and invite him to take a class with you. Stress management can be helpful for both someone who is experiencing andropause and those who are dealing with this person.
Couples counselling can be considered at any stage of a relationship. Coping skills, mutual goal setting and respectful communication patterns can be the focus. Approach the man in your life in a respectful way if you are going to suggest counselling -- talk about wanting to learn about how to deal with both of you ageing, rather than saying he alone has the problem and needs help. This approach may result in greater openness to the experience.
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