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Better Ways To Manage Mood Swings With Period Problems

An image of a menstruating woman sitting on her bed holding her abdomen in painMenstruation is a natural, unavoidable part of life. But for some women, it doesn’t feel that way. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects a high percentage of women who are in their childbearing years, causing discomfort and severe mood swings. And for some women, these problems can be debilitating every month. So, if you suffer from mood swings with period pain and all the other problems that come at this time of the month, here’s what you should know.

A Guide to PMS Mood Swings

In some women, PMS causes a range of troubling and debilitating symptoms including emotional outbursts, anxiety, and severe mood swings. These issues can occur one after the other throughout a single day.

Most women who experience mood swings with period issues will notice that these problems start a week to two weeks before menstruation begins. This is known as the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. And a day or two after the first day of menstruation, these symptoms will usually stop.

The most common symptoms of PMS are:

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Crying
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Oversensitivity
  • Alternating sadness and rage
  • Nervousness

Why Do Women Experience Mood Swings with Period Problems?

There is no clear cause for these types of problems. However, it’s thought to be related to the rise and fall of hormones that occur throughout the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is one of the most important hormones in the female body and it fluctuates throughout the month. Levels of this hormone rise after the period are finished and peaks around two weeks later. They then drop sharply and rise again just before menstruation. These peaks and valleys are thought to cause mood swings with period problems.

Other associated issues can also worsen your PMS. Low estrogen levels are associated with a drop in serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (NT) that’s associated with positive moods and feelings. So, when serotonin levels drop, you may experience depression, carbohydrate cravings, and irritability.

Stress is another issue that can make PMS worse, which is why you need to learn to manage your stress levels, particularly during uncertain times.

Severe PMS

Some women experience more than mood swings with period problems. Two conditions can severely worsen these symptoms and have a very negative impact on your health and your quality of life. These disorders are:

Premenstrual Exacerbation

If you have pre-existing conditions such as anxiety or depression, then they may become worse in the weeks or days before menstruation. This is known as Premenstrual Exacerbation.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a more severe version of PMS. Around 3 to 8 percent of women have this condition and experience severe mood swings that impact their daily life. It’s associated with symptoms like:

    • Panic attacks
    • Tension or anxiety
    • Deep sadness or despair
    • Crying

An image of tampons, pads and other products next to a bar of chocolate

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Lasting irritability and anger
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Food cravings
  • Binging
  • Feeling out of control
  • Disinterest in daily activities and relationships

Antidepressant medications can be helpful for women who have severe symptoms. However, you will need to be careful when taking these medications as they can have severe side effects.

How to Address PMS Symptoms

Every woman is different, so it can be difficult to address PMS and mood swings with period problems. However, certain strategies can be very effective at reducing or even eliminating the symptoms and making your months much more pleasant. Here’s what to try:

Track Your Symptoms

This will help reassure you that your issues are related to your cycle and provide you with data to show your doctor if you need to get their help.

Take Birth Control

Hormonal birth control can help with mood swings with period problems in some cases. However, for some women it will make your symptoms worse, so use caution when trying this strategy. There are bioidentical alternatives in addition to conventional medicines. Ask your doctor about your options.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps to lift your mood and release NTs that make you feel good. Try some gentle aerobic exercise every day to see if it makes a difference.

Vitamin B-6

This vitamin has been shown to help with PMS symptoms, and can be found in foods like fish, fruit, chicken, turkey, and fortified cereals. It can also be taken in supplement form as long as you don’t exceed the daily limit. It can also help with nausea symptoms.

Calcium

Studies have shown that regularly supplementing your diet with calcium twice a day can help fight depression and fatigue in women.

Eat Regularly

Eating small, frequent meals can help ease PMS symptoms. It can also help to stabilize your blood sugar levels, which may contribute to mood swings and irritability.

Avoid Caffeine, Sweets, and Alcohol

These substances can be harmful when you have PMS symptoms and should be avoided. Caffeine may worsen your anxiety, alcohol can cause depression, and sugary foods will cause blood sugar fluctuations, which can lead to mood swings.

Sleep More

Poor sleeping patterns are unfortunately all too common in the modern world. This will affect your mood and your overall health and may worsen PMS symptoms. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night to combat this issue.

Manage Stress

An image of a stressed out woman rubbing her templesStress is a big problem when it comes to PMS symptoms. It will worsen all your mood swings with period problems. You can’t always eliminate stressors, but you can develop better ways of coping with stress. This may include taking up meditation or even by talking about your problems with a therapist or a good friend.

How Stress Contributes to Hormonal Imbalances

Stress doesn’t cause PMS, but it can make the symptoms worse. This is particularly true when your stress levels are high enough to bring on adrenal fatigue and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). This disorder can occur when you’re under high levels of stress over a long time. When this occurs, the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response, which normally helps you cope with stress, becomes overused and starts to malfunction.

As the NEM stress response declines, the adrenal glands start to struggle to keep up with the high demand for cortisol. This is the hormone that causes the ‘fight or flight’ response and it’s your body’s best solution for stress. When your body’s demand for cortisol is too high over a long period, it can cause imbalances in the NEM stress response and its associated circuits, including the Hormonal Circuit. This may be an unrecognized cause of mood swings with period problems.

The Hormonal Circuit and PMS

As AFS progresses, the Hormonal Circuit can become unbalanced, resulting in a combination of troubling symptoms. The Hormonal Circuit consists of the ovaries or testes, the adrenal glands, and the thyroid gland. These systems are strongly interlinked, so as AFS progresses they will each decline in health and functioning and cause declines in the others as well.

When you have adrenal fatigue, your body’s high, ongoing demand for cortisol can cause the adrenal glands to decline in health. They will struggle to produce the necessary levels of cortisol and become fatigued. In the later stages of AFS, they may even start to degrade. When your cortisol levels are high on an ongoing basis it can cause problems such as diabetes, weak muscles, weight problems, and high blood pressure and glucose levels. These issues will bring additional stress and further tax the adrenals.

An image of the adrenal glandsAs the adrenals decline in health, the ovaries or testes will follow. For many women, this means hormonal imbalances that will affect menstruation and PMS. The female reproductive system needs a careful balance of estrogen and progesterone to function correctly. This balance can easily be lost when you have AFS. This may bring on PMS when you’ve never had it before as well as other issues like mood swings with period problems.

The declining health of these two organs will, in turn, affect thyroid function and health. This will affect metabolism, energy levels, and the functions of the brain, heart, and muscles. All of the issues associated with the breakdown of the components of the Hormonal Circuit will cause additional stress and worsen your underlying AFS. That’s why it’s so important that AFS is considered as an underlying cause when you have mood swings with period problems, particularly if they appear suddenly when you’ve never struggled before.

Conclusion

For a long time, women were expected to just suffer in silence when they experienced mood swings with period problems and all the other issues that can occur during menstruation. But this isn’t the case any longer. These issues can be a sign of hormonal imbalances or other issues, so here’s what you should do if you’re struggling:

  1. Reduce your stress levels with meditation, relaxation, or deep breathing exercises.
  2. Try supplements like vitamin B-6 or calcium to reduce symptoms.
  3. Talk to your doctor about AFS and underlying issues that could be causing your problems.

If you suffer from PMS or other problems associated with menstruation, then contact our team on +1-626-571-1234 or click here to use the Ask The Doctor System.

© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Many women experience mood swings with period problems and they suffer in silence every month. These types of issues may be caused by hormonal changes throughout the month. However, there are several strategies you can try that may help alleviate the issue.

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