Why Mood Changes Are Normal During PMS
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms vary for every woman. While some women experience severe cramping and lower back pain, others may have few symptoms at all. One of the most common symptoms of PMS, though, is mood swings. About one week before menstruation, women can feel angry one minute, blissfully happy a few moments later, and cry a few moments after that. This is normal.
Causes of mood swings during PMS
For most women, mood swings start during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which begins immediately after ovulation and ends with the onset of their period. At this time, estrogen levels plummet, which causes the uterus to shed its lining, a process known as menstruation. When menstruation begins, estrogen levels slowly climb back up before they plunge again.
The rising and falling estrogen levels—a shift in hormones, really—can lead to emotional symptoms and mood swings one week before a woman’s period.
Research also suggests that estrogen interacts with the brain’s natural “happy drug,” serotonin. As serotonin levels get low, women can become sad and irritable, crave unusual foods and have issues sleeping at night.
If you’re struggling with severe mood swings as a symptom of PMS, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Millions of women worldwide feel the effects of PMS and battle to control their emotions for a few days each month.
How to manage mood changes
Managing PMS-driven mood swings with natural remedies can help alleviate the worst of the symptoms. A double-blind clinical trial found that women who took a daily dose of 1,000 mg of calcium were able to minimize physical and psychological PMS symptoms. The study also found that calcium reduced anxiety, depression, emotional swings and somatic changes associated with PMS.
Other studies show that taking vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin E could also decrease PMS mood swings. Before adding a vitamin supplement to your diet, try eating foods high in those nutrients, since supplements can sometimes interact with other oral medications. If you’re at all concerned about adding a supplement to your daily regimen, speak with your doctor.
In severe cases, women should take their concerns to a gynecologist to discuss birth-control options that regulate hormonal fluctuations. Some birth-control options can reduce heavy flows, normalize hormones and even stop the uterine wall from shedding altogether.
Tracking their PMS symptoms with a period-tracker app such as Flo or Clue allows women to log their symptoms every month and create a chart to help them know what to expect. If anything, logging symptoms helps women stay more aware of their body and understand what is normal for them personally.
Where to find support
Becoming part of a network of supportive women can be one of the most beneficial strategies for dealing with PMS mood swings.
Many apps have created a safe environment where women can submit anonymous stories and questions while interacting with other women who’ve had similar experiences. They include chat features that encourage women to share their PMS, sex and pregnancy experiences.
Women can also find support by having regular discussions with their gynecologist about women’s health in general and specifically about their problems.