How Menstruation Affects Mental Health: Tips for Managing Mood Swings and Anxiety
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How Menstruation Affects Mental Health: Tips for Managing Mood Swings and Anxiety

by Aisle Team
How Menstruation Affects Mental Health: Tips for Managing Mood Swings and Anxiety

I don't know about you, but like clockwork every month I am surprised at how low my mood can get before my period. Even though I have apps to track my period and even WARN me it's coming, I have some pretty deep and moody, often tearful days before my period finally arrives. I know that it's "normal" to feel bouts of PMS, but I wondered if there were ways I could reduce those period blues, so I did the research for you!

If you're wondering why your mental state seems to take a rollercoaster ride during your period, you're not alone. Menstruation and mental health are closely linked, with hormonal fluctuations playing a significant role in mood swings and anxiety during periods. We’re here to help you understand how menstruation affects mental health and share some practical tips to help manage those monthly mood swings and anxious feelings.

Understanding the Link Between Menstruation and Mental Health

Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle can significantly impact mental health. The primary hormones involved are estrogen and progesterone, which rise and fall at different points in your cycle. These hormonal shifts can influence neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are crucial for regulating mood.

During the premenstrual phase (the week or so before your period starts), many people experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), characterized by mood swings, irritability, and anxiety. For some, these symptoms can be severe and are classified as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more intense form of PMS that can have a profound effect on mental health.

Tips for Managing Mood Swings and Anxiety During Periods

1. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can help you stay grounded and manage anxiety. Taking just a few minutes each day to focus on your breath and clear your mind can make a big difference in how you handle stress and mood swings during your period.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for mental health. Hormonal changes can sometimes disrupt your sleep patterns, so it's important to prioritize good sleep hygiene. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, limit screen time before bed, and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

3. Eat Nourishing Foods

Nutrient-rich foods can help stabilize your mood and reduce anxiety. Focus on incorporating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your meals. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, have been shown to support brain health and may help alleviate mood swings.

4. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can worsen symptoms of anxiety and irritability. Make sure you're drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially during your period. Herbal teas, like chamomile and peppermint, can also be soothing and help reduce bloating. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea can help reduce cramps and menstrual pains. 

5. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Engaging in regular exercise, whether it's a brisk walk, yoga, or a dance class, can help reduce stress and improve your overall mood. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

6. Seek Support

Talking to friends, family, or a mental health professional can provide emotional support and help you navigate the ups and downs of your menstrual cycle. Sometimes, simply sharing your experiences with someone who understands can make a world of difference.

7. Consider Supplements

Certain supplements have been shown to help with PMS symptoms, including mood swings and anxiety. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oil supplements, omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which may support brain health and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Magnesium: This mineral plays a crucial role in regulating neurotransmitters and reducing stress. Magnesium supplements may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and promote relaxation.

Vitamin D: Often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," vitamin D is essential for mood regulation. Supplementing with vitamin D may be beneficial, especially for those who live in areas with limited sunlight exposure.

B-Complex Vitamins: B vitamins, including B6, B9 (folate), and B12, are involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and mood regulation. Taking a B-complex supplement can help support overall mental well-being.

Probiotics: Gut health has been linked to mental health, and probiotics promote a healthy gut microbiome. Incorporating probiotic supplements or fermented foods into your diet may improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

L-Theanine: Found in green tea, L-theanine is an amino acid known for its calming effects. It can help reduce stress and promote relaxation without causing drowsiness.

Rhodiola Rosea: This adaptogenic herb has been used for centuries to combat stress and fatigue. Rhodiola supplements may enhance mood, increase energy levels, and improve overall mental resilience.

Ashwagandha: As an adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, decrease stress, and improve mood. Incorporating ashwagandha supplements into your routine may help manage anxiety and promote overall mental well-being.

Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you're currently taking medication or have underlying health conditions.

Period-Related Anxiety: You're Not Alone 

As someone who has navigated the ups and downs of period-related anxiety for years, I know firsthand how challenging those days can be. The mood swings, the heightened sense of worry, the feeling that you're just not quite yourself—it's tough. Trust me, you're not alone in this, and there are ways to find balance and peace during your menstrual cycle.

It's estimated that around 75% of menstruating individuals experience some form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can include anxiety and mood swings. Additionally, about 5-8% suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS characterized by significant emotional distress. Understanding that these symptoms are a common and natural part of the menstrual cycle can be the first step towards managing them effectively.

Menstruation can have a profound impact on mental health, but understanding the connection and taking proactive steps can help you manage mood swings and anxiety more effectively. By maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and incorporating mindfulness practices, you can support your mental well-being throughout your menstrual cycle. 

One often overlooked aspect of managing anxiety during your period is the fear of leaks (among other things!) This worry can add an extra layer of stress, particularly when you're out and about or trying to get a good night's sleep. Period underwear is designed to provide reliable protection, allowing you to go about your day (or night) with confidence. Knowing you have that added security can significantly reduce anxiety and help you focus on feeling your best.

Everyone's experience with menstruation is different, and it's important to find what works best for you. If you find that your symptoms are particularly severe or unmanageable, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional for guidance and support. 

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