Bloating, insomnia, tiredness, and mood swings are all too common among women of childbearing age. According to Womenshealth, 3 out of 4 women experience these symptoms as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For some, the mood changes can be the most concerning because they affect many aspects of life.
For some, there may be one emotion that is predominant during PMS. For others they may swing from one emotion to the next, causing them to feel unstable. The most common moods that my patients experience in private practice are depression, anxiety, and anger.
Understanding your cycle
So why do these mood changes occur during PMS? Every month our hormones cycle. The beginning of your period is actually the start of this cycle, not the end. During this first half of the cycle, estrogen is the more dominant hormone. This hormone is responsible for making the getting the body ready for the release of the egg (ovulation). During the second half of the cycle, progesterone is the dominant hormone. This hormone is responsible for fertilization, which is when the sperm meets the egg, and a baby begins to develop. When this doesn’t occur, we have a drop in estrogen and progesterone. This drop-in hormones causes you to have a period, and the cycle starts all over again.
The hormone mood connection
It is this decline in hormones a week before your period that causes your PMS symptoms. Estrogen is responsible for serotonin production, and as estrogen increases, serotonin increases. During those 7 days before your period, while estrogen is dropping, lowering your amount of serotonin and lowering your mood. Serotonin is our feel-good hormone, and we can it is lowered, we can feel anxious, depressed, or even anger.
Progesterone also has an effect on mood, although its connection is not as clearly understood. What is known is that when it is low, it can also cause both anxiety and mood swings.
Once your period starts, your hormones begin to rise, causing increased serotonin and improved mood stability.
I often perform hormone testing for my patients suffering from PMS. If an imbalance is present, I utilize a combination of herbs, diet, and nutrients to help restore balance.
There are more severe conditions such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), where these mood changes can be more severe and last longer. The symptoms may be severe enough to cause suicidal thoughts. If you think you may be suffering from this condition, it is best to talk with your physician about treatment options.