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Period Mood Swings: Causes and Tips

Are your period mood swings out of control? Check out our comprehensive guide on why we get monthly mood swings and suggestions for dealing with them.

Ladies, we all know how annoying it can be when our friends or family members accuse us of being moody around our periods. But what if there's the teensiest bit of truth to their words? Or maybe even a ton of truth?

As much as we may not want to admit it, period mood swings are a real pms symptom. That's why when we're approaching "Red Tide Week," we tend to become a little more on-edge than usual. Things that wouldn't normally be a big deal might suddenly set us off (often to our own surprise as well as the surprise of every other person in the vicinity).

If you're tired of feeling like your premenstrual mood swings are completely out of your control, you'll be happy to know there may be some things you can do to minimize them. But first, you need to understand why they're happening in the first place. Contrary to what your brother used to tell you, your monthly mood swings are probably not an indication of severe mental disorders; more likely, they're just a premenstrual symptom. They can, however, impact your quality of life and your relationships. So let's take a deep dive into what's causing your Mr. Hyde episodes and how you can take better control of your emotional symptoms each month.

What Are Mood Swings?

Mood swings refer to rapid changes in mood. It's normal and healthy to have variances in mood over time (based on your circumstances). It's impossible to feel overjoyed every moment of every day. (Plus, that would be exhausting!)

Though everyone has happy days and sad days and everything in-between, menstrual cycle mood changes are much more drastic. There is nothing gradual about the mood swings some of us women experience in the days leading up to our menstrual cycle. Usually, these rapid changes in mood are due to hormone changes.

Though we want to focus on period-related mood swings in this guide, it is still important to understand that there are other potential mood swing causes. Sometimes, rapid mood symptoms can be due to substance use and abuse, certain health conditions, and mental health or mood disorders. Here are some of the mental health conditions associated with severe mood shifts.

Major Depressive Disorder: Major depressive disorder (also known as MDD or clinical depression) causes intense feelings of severe depression over a lengthy period. People with MDD may also experience drastic and sudden mood swings.

Personality Disorders: Some personality disorders are associated with rapid and sometimes violent mood changes in a short time period.

Bipolar Disorder: This mood disorder is marked by widely ranging emotions that can include euphoria and extreme depression or anger.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD): This condition is usually a childhood diagnosis. Children with DMDD tend to have inappropriate emotional outbursts that don't coincide with their current stage of development.

Cyclothymic Disorder: This mood disorder is similar to bipolar disorder and is associated with frequent "ups" and "downs" (though they aren't as severe as the mood swings experienced with bipolar disorder).

Dysthymia: Also known as persistent depressive disorder (or PDD), this condition is a chronic form of depression.

For women who have any of the above conditions, professional treatment is important. It's especially urgent to seek treatment if you have suicidal thoughts or other severe symptoms associated with your negative mood swings.

If your mood swings are not associated with a diagnosed mental health disorder and tend to come around the same time every month, you are probably dealing with premenstrual syndrome or something similar. Let's take a deeper look into why so many of us ladies get so emotional around our menstrual cycle.

Why Are We So Emotional on Our Periods?

It can be intensely frustrating when we feel increased anger, anxiety, or irritability (even if it's only for a week or two out of the month). Many women find themselves wondering, "Why am I so emotional on my period?" The answer can almost always be traced back to our remarkable female hormones.

The female body goes through a lot of hormonal fluctuations during different phases of the menstrual cycle. When we approach our menstrual period, changes in our estrogen and progesterone levels become more pronounced. These hormones can also influence our body's serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that's linked to feelings of happiness and well-being. When serotonin levels drop too low, we're more likely to feel sad and overwhelmed.

But not all women who menstruate experience PMS mood swings, so what gives? What makes some women different from others in how they experience monthly mood swings? For most women with excessive anxiety, irritability and sadness around menstruation, the problem stems from a hormone imbalance. When estrogen or progesterone dip too low or spike too high, unpleasant symptoms such as premenstrual exacerbation, increased food cravings, breast tenderness, and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome can occur.

Hormone imbalances don't have to be permanent. Though they don't often resolve themselves without intervention, there are things you can do to gently bring your hormones back into balance. We'll give you some specific suggestions for balancing your hormones to prevent mood swings later in this guide.

How Can Periods Cause Mood Swings?

In addition to all the crazy stuff that's going on with our hormones around our periods, women have to deal with a lot of other symptoms that could cause anyone to get a little cranky. If men bled from their nether regions for 3-7 days out of the month, they'd become more irritable, too!

The fact of the matter is, dealing with monthly periods is not an easy task. We plan our recreational activities around our cycles and many of us have had vacations ruined by the unexpected early arrival of Aunt Flo. So even though our goal should be to get through our period with as little discomfort or irritation as possible, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves if we get a little snappy at times.

We deal with things every month that could drive anyone crazy. So give yourself a pat on the back for getting through the month without completely losing your marbles, girl!

What Are Some Premenstrual Disorders That Cause Mood Swings?

Before we move on to how we can prevent and handle our mood swings, we first need to talk about situations when our mood swings are more severe than normal. Increased irritability and anxiety are both common PMS symptoms. Other common PMS symptoms include food cravings, tender breasts, and fatigue.

An estimated 3 out of every 4 women who menstruate experience some type of premenstrual syndrome in their lifetimes. PMS symptoms can range from moderate to severe and tend to occur in a predictable pattern. We're all familiar with monthly cramps and bleeding, but some of the potential symptoms of PMS are surprising. According to the Mayo Clinic, women with PMS may experience:

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Crying spells
  • Weight gain (due to fluid retention)
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea or constipation

Some women think these symptoms are "normal," and part of any menstrual cycle. But the good news is that many women can experience life without these symptoms! Some of us may experience a reduction of our monthly PMS symptoms when we balance their hormones with medication, lifestyle changes, or natural supplements.

Severe PMS symptoms can negatively impact daily life. If your symptoms are debilitating, you probably aren't experiencing PMS, though. You're most likely experiencing premenstrual dysphoric disorder (also known as PMDD). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is marked by intense mood swings that may include feelings of anger, anxiety, irritability, and depression. Fortunately, there are not many women who suffer from PMDD. But if you do, you should seek professional help to get your symptoms under control.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is not something to take lightly. PMDD symptoms can be potentially life-threatening. Women with this condition sometimes feel so overwhelmed and depressed that they resort to suicidal thoughts. If you ever have thoughts about harming yourself, seek emergency help immediately.

How Long Do PMS Mood Swings Last?

Most women begin experiencing emotional and physical symptoms approximately 1-2 weeks before the start of their period. Usually, these symptoms begin to taper off within the first few days of bleeding. How long you experience PMS mood swings and other associated symptoms depends on a variety of factors, including your specific hormone levels and your family history of PMS.

If your symptoms last longer than 1-2 weeks, you probably want to consult with your gynecologist or another healthcare provider. He or she may decide to run tests to figure out why you are experiencing such intense or long-lasting symptoms.

Can Mood Swings Be Prevented?

For those of us with period mood swings and other PMS symptoms, there is hope! We may be able to prevent (or at least minimize) our monthly mood swings by doing the following:

  • Take antidepressant medications as appropriate and prescribed (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These types of antidepressants may reduce mood swings related to PMS.
  • Get good nutrition. Resisting junk food cravings associated with PMS may help you avoid drops in blood sugar. As you may already know, a blood sugar drop can make your mood turn south really fast! Try to fill up on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains so you're less likely to reach for unhealthy foods that can mess with your hormones and health.
  • Get enough sleep. It's best to always get sufficient sleep, but you should pay extra attention to how much shuteye you get in the week leading up to your period. Lack of sleep is definitely a factor behind menstrual mood swings!
  • Manage your stress levels. We know, that's not as simple as it sounds, but it's important for your mental health (especially around your period). If you can't get rid of some of the stressors in your life, consider taking up yoga or meditation to help you deal with those stressors more constructively.
  • Take a hormone-balancing supplement. Balancing your hormones should be a top priority if you regularly experience period mood swings. Proper hormone balance is an essential aspect of womens health. Hertime is a great solution for women who need help keeping their hormones balanced. It contains an effective blend of herbs, vitamins, and minerals that can help bring-and keep-female hormones in balance.
  • Stop taking birth control. Hormonal birth control is a well-known culprit behind many female hormone imbalances and PMS symptoms. If it's feasible, try to wean yourself off your birth control pill and use other, non-hormonal forms of contraception to help you with your family planning goals.

These tactics may help you prevent PMS mood swings going forward. Just remember that it takes time for the body to catch up once you make lifestyle changes that impact your hormones. Don't give up until you've tried the above methods for at least several months.

What Are Some Ways To Handle Mood Swings?

If you don't have a lot of luck preventing your mood swings, there are some ways you can handle them once they pop up. Treating mood swings isn't rocket science, but it does require some effort and forethought. Here are some things to try the next time you feel like you're losing your cool.

  • Exercise. Even if you only have time to squeeze in a couple of 15-minute walks during the day, exercise can help boost your mood by releasing hormones (like serotonin) and sending more oxygen to your brain. Plus, releasing energy through exercise is a great way to keep that energy from coming out in less productive ways.
  • Talk to someone. It sounds simplistic, but simply chatting with someone who cares about you can be a great mood booster. Feel free to talk about your frustrations and anything else you're currently feeling in the moment, but try to end the conversation on a positive note if you can.
  • Get creative. Putting your energy into an art project or other type of creative outlet can be extremely therapeutic. It can also take your attention away from the things (or people) who are currently causing you to feel more stressed or irritable than usual.
  • Write in a journal. If you don't have anyone to talk to, why not talk to yourself? Writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal is a great way to release pent-up emotions so they don't spill over in the form of tears or yelling. If you want to, you can keep two separate journals-one for everyday events and one for times when you're feeling down or irritable. Another possible purpose for a journal is to document your mood shifts and what's happening when you experience them. You may be able to recognize patterns over time and identify triggers for your mood swings.
  • Create a routine and stick with it. You might want to eat all day long and binge-watch TV when you're in the middle of a PMS mood swing. But eating too frequently or snacking on the wrong types of foods can negatively impact your hormones and make you feel even worse. To keep your mood as even and steady as possible, create an eating and sleeping routine and stick with it throughout your period.
  • Take a warm shower or bath. We often associate warmth with feelings of comfort and security. When you're feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, try soaking in a warm shower or bath. If you decide to bathe, consider putting soothing Epsom salts into your bath water to relax your tense muscles. You'll probably feel like a new woman by the time your TLC session is done!

When Should Depression Be Addressed With a Doctor?

It's natural to feel down sometimes, but how can you tell if your feelings of sadness are normal and fleeting or more serious? If you're feeling depressed, here are a few signs you should talk to a doctor about your symptoms:

  • Your depression is causing you to lose your appetite
  • You're feeling more distant from your loved ones, hobbies, and other things you used to enjoy
  • You experience irrational thinking
  • You have more bad days than good days for weeks at a time
  • You are unable to concentrate
  • You have thoughts about hurting yourself

If you experience any of the above, please see a doctor as soon as possible. There is no reason to feel shame for being depressed. Many people struggle with similar mental health conditions. The most important thing for you to do is seek help so you can go on living and experience a higher quality of life.

We believe every women deserves to live life to the fullest. For more information on important subjects related to health and happiness, visit Mixhers resources.