Picture this: You wake up thinking it's going to be just like any other day. You feel fine, and if you got enough sleep, maybe even rejuvenated. You enjoy a cup of coffee and a delicious breakfast before you get ready for work. But a couple of hours later, something feels off. Suddenly, everything is bothering you. If you're working from home, it may be the sound of a vacuum in the background while you're trying to respond to emails. And if you're in the office, it might be a noisy coworker. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, so why do you feel annoyed? You check your calendar and something clicks: It's the week before your period arrives. Ah.
Mood swings are one of the most common symptoms of menstruation. A drastic shift in your mood can occur a week prior to your next cycle and can last all the way until the first few days of your period. It's part of a collection of physical and emotional symptoms called premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Menstruation mood swings: Why does it happen?
It's the sudden change in how you feel, especially if nothing upsetting or out of the ordinary has happened. Yung parang naiirita ka na lang for no reason. Other emotions that might be heightened because of PMS include anger, anxiety, irritability, and sadness.
While it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why mood swings happen, experts believe it has something to do with the fluctuation of hormones. In the middle of your cycle, ovulation happens. If you've forgotten what you learned in biology, this is when the ovary releases the egg, causing estrogen and progesterone levels to drop. This shift can trigger both physical and emotional symptoms. It can also affect serotonin levels aka the thing in your body that regulates your mood.
Menstruation mood swings: Is it serious?
Though mood swings are common among people who menstruate, it's important to know that sometimes people experience it differently. There are two related conditions to PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and premenstrual exacerbation (PME).
PMDD is just like PMS but the emotional effects tend to be more severe. If you notice that your mood swings are keeping you from working, talking to people, or performing everyday tasks, then you may be experiencing PMDD. This might occur even after a period cycle has finished.
PME, on the other hand, is a term for when someone with a pre-existing mental health condition experiences worse symptoms days or weeks before their cycle. The following mental health conditions can become more severe in the days leading up to their period: depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Menstruation mood swings: How to manage
- Track your mood. You should already be tracking your menstrual cycle, but if you want to understand yourself better, consider monitoring your emotions as well. At the very least, it can help you confirm that your mood swings are related to your period. You might find different links to your mood like feeling extra tired or having the urge to cry. This will also help you if you decide that you need to see a doctor about any of your symptoms. If there's a problem, this tracker can assist in proving a clearer picture. Plus, it's an easy way to validate your feelings.
- Think before you eat. We know, it seems like the way you eat keeps coming up whenever you have a health question, but that's not without reason. Avoid food with sugars, sodium, and caffeine if you want to avoid mood swings. One clinical trial found that calcium supplement helped with PMS-related emotions like sadness, anxiety, and irritability. Foods that are high in calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, and some leafy veggies.
- Exercise. You don't need to run a marathon, don't worry. Any movement that helps you sweat and raises your heartrate is good for you. Even a break from technology has been proven to positively affect someone's mood so if you are able, take a *safe* walk around your neighborhood (but don't forget your face mask).
- Sleep, sleep, sleep. Think back to the last time you didn't get enough sleep. Remember how annoyed you were when you were forced to leave your precious bed? You probably didn't even have your period then! Sleep affects our moods more than we think.
- Manage your stress. This one can be challenging because we all have different stress triggers. When something stressful comes up, step back, take a deep breath, and try to see things from a different perspective.