Hormone levels can affect emotions, something that many people know because of the famous shifting emotions of pregnant women. However, pregnancy is not required in order to experience emotional shifts because of hormones.
Unlike a man’s body where hormone levels are relatively stable, a woman’s body goes through monthly cycles of differing hormone levels. These can bring about shifting emotions such as anxiety.
PMS as a Cause of Anxiety
Many women suffer from some sort of Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS. For some women, it is a relatively mild annoyance more than anything. For others, it can hit them like a freight train.
PMS comes with a list of symptoms, including bloating, fatigue, cramping, breast tenderness and more. When the symptoms of PMS are extremely severe, the condition is referred to as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD.
Anxiety is actually a very common PMS symptom. In many women, it manifests as irritability. However, some women may experience general tension, feelings of nervousness or even depression. PMS doesn’t cause anxiety, but it can worsen anxiety that is at low levels during the rest of the month, turning it into a real problem.
Women sometimes don’t realize that they are experiencing anxiety because of PMS. Experiencing any of these symptoms during the week before a period is due could be caused by PMS-related anxiety:
Often, these symptoms will get better if the underlying issue– the anxiety– is dealt with.
Dealing with PMS-Related Anxiety
Many women find that taking a few precautions and being more understanding with themselves helps tremendously with PMS-related anxiety. The emotions caused by PMS are real and not less important than those experienced at any other time of the month. Accepting this can help some women feel less embarrassed or ashamed of their strong emotions during this time.
Other steps to take that help with anxiety in general include things like avoiding caffeine and getting plenty of exercise. Some women like to make it a priority to free up some extra time every night during the week before their period to take a walk, watch a movie, or relax in the bath. Anything that helps with anxiety during everyday life will also help with PMS anxiety.
Additionally, anything that helps with PMS symptoms in general can also help with PMS-related anxiety. This includes natural remedies such as calcium or herbal supplements as well as NSAID pain relievers. Pain increases stress, so women who are experiencing PMS-related pain can reduce anxiety to some extent by using pain relievers.
For women who suffer from severe PMS and/or have another reason to consider it, hormonal contraceptives can be useful. These substances smooth out the cycle and help many women with all sorts of PMS symptoms. Many women of child-bearing age who also need contraception of some kind find this to be a beneficial side effect of their birth control.