Women of a child-bearing age experience PMS while menstruating, and the resulting mood swings are more common than you think. Up to 3 out of every four women report mood changes and irritability.
Monthly mood swings are a common symptom of getting your period. Up to 90% of women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which usually occurs right before menstruation starts, and women who experience mood swings report feelings of:
If, like me, you ask whether there is some way of controlling your fluctuating moods, be assured that you are not the only woman alive to wonder the same thing. Let's look at some of the ways you can get control of your emotions.
Why do periods cause mood swings?
Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones that can play havoc with your emotions during your period.
In the days leading up to your period, you may find that you are experiencing body changes such as tender breasts and bloating. These are not the only changes occurring; some women report multiple feelings that can amount to mood swings.
The female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone control female sexual characteristics such as child-bearing and your periods. Decreased levels of these hormones can have a peculiar effect on our minds. They can make us feel many sudden and unexplained emotions in a short period.
These hormones are also known as ovarian steroids, which are essential for the normal functioning of our ovaries and sex organs.
Let’s have a quick look at different phases of your menstrual cycle:
- Menstrual phase. You get your period bleed during the first stage of the cycle. When you stop bleeding, this stage ends.
- Follicular phase. Begins on the first day of your period commences (bleed) until ovulation. During this phase, your body has lower levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Towards the end of your period, your body will start to rebuild the uterus lining in preparation for ovulation, where you release an egg and hormone levels begin to rise again.
- Ovulation happens mid menstrual cycle. Oestrogen levels rise to a high point just before ovulation, and then they drop straight after.
- The luteal phase begins after ovulation. This half of your cycle sees a significant spike in progesterone to help prepare the uterus for a child. If the released egg is unfertilised, this progesterone drops quickly, and your period begins.
Emotional symptoms of PMS
When you are about to get your period, the emotions you can swing through can influence your loved ones and your emotional well-being.
You may wake in the morning feeling on top of the world, only to crash an hour later with feelings of anger or irritation.
We will answer some of the questions you may have about the emotional roller coaster you find yourself on.
Is it normal to feel irritable before my period?
Yes, it is entirely normal to feel irritable before your period starts. With the release of eggs, halfway through your cycle comes falling oestrogen and progesterone levels. When these hormones are not as active, it can cause a lowering of our feel-good serotonin levels.
Levels of serotonin drop significantly in the two weeks preceding your period. Low levels of serotonin are linked to us feeling irritable. Irritability can make you feel like the world is not right, and you might prefer to be alone.
To help raise serotonin levels, you can take a vitamin or mineral supplement such as:
- magnesium and
- vitamins B6 and E.
- magnesium *
*If you find yourself craving chocolate before your period, there is a perfect reason. Chocolate can contain high levels of magnesium.
Why do I get so angry with my partner before my period?
Your loved one is usually the person closest to you, so it makes sense that they are sometimes the brunt of your hormonal anger. You may find yourself feeling angry for no apparent reason. If your partner is understanding, they will usually forgive you.
This study sought to determine if there was a relationship between PMS and anger in women. The results showed that women had higher anger and lower anger control when they had their period than women without PMS.
Relaxation or listening to music can help during this time, as can avoiding situations where you are likely to become angry. Talking to your partner in the days leading up to your period can help them be more understanding and less likely to retaliate.
Other ways to ensure you don’t take it out your anger on your partner:
- good nutrition
- adequate sleep
- yoga or meditation
If you would like to read some more about sleep when you have your period, read these articles:
Periods can make you feel like crying for no reason
Do you know those days? The ones where you feel like crying all the time! We can all get a little teary just before our period.
Falling serotonin levels are responsible for many of the symptoms of menstruation, and crying or feelings of mild depression are two of the signs we can experience.
According to this study, up to 75% of women feel sad and blue in the weeks leading up to their period, or the luteal phase of the menstruation cycle.
Do not despair; crying is a natural release that can make you feel better. Let it out and have a good howl; you may feel better for it! If you are crying because you are in pain, you should seek medical help.
Will I stop feeling anxious when my period is over?
If you experience a racing heart, shortness of breath, and feel like you have lost control, you may be experiencing generalised anxiety. Generalised anxiety can occur when your body's hormone levels drop just before your period.
If you have ongoing or chronic symptoms of anxiety accompanied by depression, you may be one of 5% of women who experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD significantly impacts women’s lives and can be debilitating in nature.
Generalised anxiety should pass when your menstrual cycle is on a more even keel. If you think your condition is more severe and could be PMDD seek medical help.
For further information about your period and anxiety, these articles have some helpful information:
- Why is my anxiety worse right before my period?
- Can lemon balm help with anxiety?
- Which herbal teas should I drink for stress and anxiety?
- Valerian Root: My best natural supplement for anxiety
Uncontrolled rage can be a symptom of PMS
Feelings of anger and irritability are expected during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, but as we discussed, a small percentage of women (5%) experience extremes in mood swings, including chronic anxiety and depression. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can also be the cause of uncontrolled rage.
Uncontrolled rage can present as verbally (or physically) violent outbursts or gross overreactions to situations or stimuli. While men are statistically more likely to experience unchecked rage, it can affect women due to hormone fluctuations in the menstrual cycle.
The symptoms of PMS are different for all women. Most of the most reported symptoms are anger, irritation, and mild depression. 75% of women report these feelings, which tend to pass once your period bleed begins. A small percentage (5%) of women experience more severe symptoms like uncontrolled rage, chronic anxiety, and depression.
Controlling your mood swings
Recognising the symptoms of PMS is the first step to controlling your mood swings. We are not all perfect angels, so there will be times when mood swings will get the better of you.
Hormonal peaks and troughs are responsible for most of the irritation and anger we experience. If something else happens during this time, such as a stressful job situation, a family emergency, or a divorce, our emotions can be affected more than usual.
For many women, a lifestyle or diet change can be enough to help them control the mood swings of PMS. Let's have a look at some of the ways you can help get those moods under control.
Regular exercise can reduce mood swings.
We all know the benefits of regular exercise. You don't have to take up marathon running, but a brisk walk once a day can do a lot to lift the spirits and keep a level head.
Endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, are released with regular exercise to boost energy and help with some of the physical symptoms of menstruation, such as bloating and headaches.
The Australian Government Health Direct website recommends that women do at least half an hour (30 minutes) of exercise 5 times a week to make improvements to how they feel when they have PMS.
It will also help guard against the onset of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The contraceptive pill can help to stop you from feeling anxious
GPs can prescribe the contraceptive pill to women who experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) to help lessen the more severe symptoms of PMS, including anxiety.
This study found that hormonal contraceptives can lessen the symptoms of PMS and PMDD in women of child-bearing age. Anxiety experienced during the luteal phases of the menstruation cycle was less prevalent.
What to eat when you are experiencing mood swings
While you might feel like filling up on comfort foods when you feel premenstrual, a diet high in complex carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables will serve you better.
A balanced diet of these foods can help to reduce mood symptoms and unhealthy food cravings
Foods can include:
- Complex carbohydrates in foods made with whole grains
- whole-wheat bread, pasta, and cereals
- brown rice, beans, and lentils.
- calcium-rich foods, such as low fat cheese, yogurt and leafy green vegetables
If you make some changes to your eating schedule and eat six small portions per day rather than three large meals, or eat a bit less at your three meals and add three light snacks, you can keep your blood sugar level stable to help with symptoms.
This study found that lifestyle and diet changes had a significant effect on mood swings during menstruation.
Controlling mood swings can be aided by a combination of regular exercise, diet, and medical intervention such as the contraceptive pill. Making some lifestyle changes can be beneficial when treating both the emotional and physical symptoms of PMS in women.
Calming Teas to soothe your stress
Along with a healthy diet, some calming teas can help to minimise the symptoms of period mood swings and allow you some time to relax.
Some teas, such as chamomile and ginger teas, have properties to relax and soothe you during times of stress or anxiety. A warming cup of natural tea may ease your emotions and give you the space to breathe when your body is going through the ups and downs of PMS.
We will now look at some natural teas I love to sip when I feel PMS approaching.
Chamomile tea can be a calming influence
Chamomile tea is one of those teas that you can drink anytime. It can help you get a good night's sleep if you are feeling tired as it regulates your circadian rhythms, or it can calm you in the middle of the day.
As a natural treatment for PMS, the antioxidants in chamomile tea can lessen period mood swings. Chamomile tea can also help relieve the physical discomfort of PMS, such as abdominal pains and bloating.
This study looks at the efficacy of chamomile tea in treating PMS symptoms. The study found that chamomile has antispasmodic, sedative, and anti-anxiety properties, contributing to PMS relief.
Ginger tea may help with your anxiety.
Who doesn't love the smell of ginger? It is a warming and health-giving tea that can help treat anxiety caused by the symptoms of PMS.
Ginger tea combined with lemongrass can treat the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS. This calming tea has the extra goodness of peppermint, liquorice, safflower, and orange to make it a pleasant and restorative brew.
This study found that ginger could significantly reduce mood symptoms, including anxiety, in women with symptoms of PMS. It was also found to reduce headaches for women in the luteal phase of menstruation.
Green tea can ease your emotions.
Green tea is like a super tea. There seems to be very little that it can't treat, including the symptoms of mood swings during your period. Green matcha tea can be brewed into a tea or served in your favourite latte.
Theanine is the active ingredient in green tea that has increased relaxation. This means that green tea can reduce some of the mood-related symptoms of PMS.
Green tea is also helpful in treating the physical symptoms of PMS, such as menstrual cramps with catechins, which have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Another tea that can help with this painful condition is rose tea; read about it here:
Ginkgo Biloba contains phytoestrogen to help stabilise your emotions
Ginkgo extract has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, and its properties are well documented. Effective memory restoration is one of the commonly known facts about ginkgo Biloba.
Ginkgo biloba has also been found to reduce the severity of PMS and can help stabilise emotions. The tea can increase blood circulation, which improves mood and depressive symptoms in women.
This study found that ginkgo Biloba contains phytoestrogens which have an estrogenic effect. This means it can help to balance the hormones in premenstrual women. It has also been found to impact women going through menopause positively.
Natural teas have long been used as a treatment for the symptoms of PMS. With benefits for both the emotional and physical symptoms, teas could be the most versatile treatment available. The calming effects of chamomile and ginger can significantly reduce mood swings. At the same time, the presence of catechins in green tea can help more than just your emotional symptoms.
If you thought you were alone when experiencing mood swings at that time of the month, knowing that this is a widespread symptom of premenstrual syndrome is comforting. PMS plays havoc with our oestrogen and progesterone levels which in turn can lessen the serotonin our bodies produce, which makes us feel good.
Discounting any severe conditions such as PMDD, a combination of a healthy diet, exercise, understanding partner or family member, and some natural health-giving teas can help you manage the mood swings that accompany PMS. Smile, and the world will smile with you! (Even if you are seething inside)