How to Deal with Premenstrual Mood Swings

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause mood swings about a week before your period. You might wake up in great spirits but find yourself becoming irritable an hour or two later for no reason. This is likely related to hormonal fluctuations.


PMS is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that start a week or so before your period. It makes some people feel moodier than usual and others bloated and achy.

Other emotional symptoms of PMS can include:

  • sadness
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • anger

Two related conditions can also make you feel moodier before your period:

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is very similar to PMS, but its symptoms are more severe and tend to involve emotions. For some, it causes intense mood swings that interfere with daily life. While recent research estimates about 75 percent of women have PMS during their reproductive years, only 3 to 8 percent have PMDD.
  • Premenstrual exacerbation. This refers to when symptoms of an existing condition, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression, become worse in the weeks or days leading up to your period. About half of all women who receive treatment for PMS also have either depression or anxiety.

The Hormonal Tango: Why Your Mood Takes Center Stage Before Your Period

Ever wonder why you transform from sunshine to thunderstorm right around the time your period’s on approach? It’s not your imagination – these premenstrual mood swings are a real party, courtesy of a complex hormonal tango playing out in your body.

The culprit? The second half of your menstrual cycle, after ovulation has released its egg into the world. As levels of estrogen and progesterone, two key players in the hormonal orchestra, take a dramatic dip, the music of your mood shifts. This hormonal fluctuation can trigger a whole cascade of effects, both physical and emotional.

Think of serotonin, the brain’s resident mood maestro, as a guest star in this hormonal performance. Serotonin helps regulate your mood, sleep, and even those pre-period food cravings. But guess what? Those same hormonal shifts messing with your vibe can also mess with your serotonin levels, leading to sadness, irritability, and trouble sleeping – bingo, classic PMS symptoms!

So, while the exact cause of PMS remains a bit of a mystery, the hormonal fluctuations of the second half of your cycle are definitely starring in the drama. They’re influencing how your body produces and uses serotonin, and that, in turn, dictates how your mood plays out. It’s like a hormonal puppet show, pulling the strings of your emotions before your period makes its grand entrance.

But remember, you’re not just a helpless puppet in this hormonal play. Understanding the role these hormones play can empower you to manage your premenstrual mood swings. From exploring lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to seeking medical support if needed, there are ways to find your own rhythm in this hormonal dance. So, take a deep breath, put on your dancing shoes, and remember, even the most dramatic hormone-fueled performances can have a happy ending!

Taking the Sting Out of PMS Mood Swings: Your Guide to Calm

Premenstrual mood swings. Ah, that delightful rollercoaster of emotions that turns sunshine into thunderclouds in the blink of an eye. But before you let your hormones hold you hostage, remember you have the power to manage them. Here’s how:

Be a PMS Detective:

  1. Track your cycle: Grab a period-tracking app or whip up your own chart. Mark those emotional shifts alongside physical symptoms like cramps or bloating. Seeing the pattern lets you confirm the link and gives you valuable ammunition for doctor conversations.
  2. Log your feelings: Note down sadness, irritability, crying spells, concentration crashes, and more. Describing the intensity (mild, moderate, severe) adds another layer of detail.

Hormonal Helpers:

  1. Birth control: Consider hormonal birth control like the pill or patch. While some report worse mood swings, for others, it’s a godsend, easing bloating, tenderness, and even emotional ups and downs. Continuous pills skipping the placebo week can banish both period and PMS for some.
  2. Natural supplements: Calcium, found in milk, yogurt, and leafy greens, might combat sadness and anxiety. Vitamin B6, present in fish, chicken, and fortified cereals, could also lend a hand. Remember, it takes three cycles to see results, so be patient!

Lifestyle Tweaks:

  1. Get moving: Even a daily walk is a potent mood booster. Exercise combats sadness, irritability, and anxiety, helping you find your happy stride.
  2. Fuel your body wisely: Resist the junk food siren song. Sugar, fat, and salt wreak havoc on mood. Opt for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep you full and avoid those blood sugar dips that trigger grumpiness.
  3. Prioritize sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours a night, especially during the pre-period phase. Sleep deprivation is a surefire way to unleash the mood monster.
  4. Chill out, stress less: Deep breathing, meditation, yoga – find your stress-busting weapons. Calming your mind and body can significantly dampen those PMS-fueled emotional storms.

Medical Intervention:

If lifestyle changes and natural remedies aren’t enough, consider medication:

  • SSRIs: These antidepressants increase serotonin, the brain’s mood regulator. Talk to your doctor about dosage and whether taking them only during the two weeks before PMS hits is an option.
  • Other antidepressants: Duloxetine and venlafaxine might also be helpful in managing PMS-related mood swings.

Remember, you’re not alone in this hormonal tango. By tracking your symptoms, exploring various options, and working with your doctor, you can learn to waltz with your PMS, not let it dance you around. Take control, reclaim your emotional equilibrium, and enjoy a smoother monthly journey.

Building Your PMS Support Squad: Beyond the Doctor’s Office

Confronting the emotional chaos of PMS can feel like you’re navigating a solo expedition through wilderness. But you don’t have to battle these hormonal beasts alone! Let’s explore different avenues of support to help you reclaim your emotional equilibrium:

Your Medical Companion:

  • Find a doctor who listens: Your gynecologist should be your trusted ally in understanding and managing PMS. If your current doctor dismisses your concerns, it’s time to explore other options. Look for someone who takes your symptoms seriously and works collaboratively with you.
  • Utilize online resources: Tools like Healthline’s FindCare can connect you with doctors in your area who specialize in women’s health and understand PMS complexities.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of your network: Ask friends, family members, or colleagues for recommendations of doctors who have helped them navigate PMS or similar conditions.

Connecting with the Community:

  • Seek online solace: The International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) is a treasure trove of information. Their website offers blogs, forums, and support groups where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through. Sharing experiences and receiving empathy can be incredibly validating and empowering.
  • Local connections: IAPMD also provides resources for finding local support groups or healthcare professionals familiar with PMS and PMDD. Knowing you’re not alone in your community can be a powerful source of strength.

Building Your Personal Toolbox:

  • Knowledge is power: Educate yourself about PMS and its various symptoms. Read articles, watch informative videos, and attend workshops to understand the science behind the moods. The more you know, the better equipped you are to manage it.
  • Mind-body magic: Explore stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Managing stress can significantly impact your emotional well-being, especially during those pre-period days.
  • Creative outlets: Journaling, art therapy, or even dancing can be powerful tools for expressing and processing your emotions. Finding healthy ways to release built-up tension can contribute to a calmer state of mind.

Remember, battling PMS doesn’t have to be a lonely struggle. By building a support squad that includes your doctor, online communities, and your own self-care strategies, you can navigate the hormonal rollercoaster with greater confidence and find your path to premenstrual peace.


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