Why is My Anxiety So Bad Right Before My Period?
Whenever Auntie Flo comes around, you already expect her advanced party of PMS symptoms to announce her ETA. And more often than not, you already have your go-to remedies prepared for all sorts of bodily aches and pains.
But when your pre-caffeinated self gets all jittery right before your period, it becomes an entirely different story. Anxiety is perhaps something you need to figure out to manage better. We'd like to help shed some light on your dilemma through this article.
Why do I feel so anxious just before my period?
When you hear "PMS," you typically think of menstrual cramps, sore boobs, and migraine. But, in addition to these physical symptoms, your period can also affect you emotionally. Just like unpredictable weather, you can go from sunshiny one moment to "dark and cloudy" the next. Such mood swings are fairly common.
However, it's also not unusual for anxiety to be part of the premenstrual package. In fact, 30% to 80% of women experience mild emotional stress before their period. But just like how PMS symptoms can affect each person differently, there can also be different anxiety levels. Some women may feel just a little bit tense, while others undergo a more severe form of anxiety.
So perhaps you're now wondering if you’re looking at things the wrong way, like what if you're just going through some extra level of tenseness? How do you know if you already need to see a doctor? We're breaking it down for you in the next section, so you can have a better grasp of what's going on.
How serious is my premenstrual anxiety?
So why does your anxiety shoot up right before your period? As you probably would've thought, it has a lot to do with the usual suspects—your hormones. Yup, the same bunch that causes your system to go haywire during your period, especially at the start of your monthly cycle.
Typically lasting for 12 to 14 days, it’s called the luteal phase, which happens after ovulation and ends at the onset of menstruation. During this time, your ovaries produce a hormone called progesterone. At this point, your levels of estrogen (another hormone) are already high. The sudden surge of these reproductive hormones to prepare your body for pregnancy (like directing your uterine lining to thicken) and the abrupt drop when it doesn't happen (which is when your mense occurs) causes the rollercoaster ride of emotions.
And as if that weren’t enough, they just have to interfere with serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones which help regulate your mood. This may explain such PMS symptoms as mood swings, crying spells, and anxiety. If you have any of these, including PMS anxiety, you can still function normally to go about your usual day-to-day business. But what if it gets so disruptive that you can no longer work and your relationships are already affected? Then you may be suffering from PMDD.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD is a long-enough word, so we’ll make the definition brief for you: it’s basically severe PMS. If you're experiencing PMS mood swings, you're typically annoyed, irritated, or weepy, even about simple things, but you're still basically yourself, maybe just a little extra. But with PMDD, you get upset over things that wouldn’t normally bother you, and your anger can be extreme.
With PMS anxiety, you’re less inclined to do your favorite activities because you feel a bit under the weather but can perhaps be coaxed with the right incentive, such as your BFF inviting you. But with PMDD, you show a marked disinterest in your usual activities—and even in people— regardless of enticements. To be diagnosed with the disorder, you need to have at least five or more of the accepted symptoms listed by the Office on Women's Health or OWH, including one mood-related symptom.
Although scientists have yet to wrap their fingers around what exactly causes this anxiety disorder, your genetics, hormonal imbalances during the menstrual cycle, and how your brain responds to the fluctuations in hormone levels may explain PMDD.
Reproductive hormones affecting PMDD
One of the more popular ones is the female hormone progesterone that helps prep your body in anticipation of pregnancy. As we talked about earlier, your ovaries go overboard in producing progesterone during the luteal phase of your cycle. If you have PMDD, you may have heightened sensitivity to progesterone, which can increase activity in your brain's emotional control centers and lead to severe anxiety.
If it's the first time you've heard about allopregnanolone or even pronounced it, then you're not alone. This emotion-regulating hormone, which is also produced during the luteal phase, may not be as famous as its closest cousin, progesterone, but it can also be a strong trigger for PMDD.
When you have Increased sensitivity to allopregnanolone, it can strike at brain-calming receptors in the brain called GABA, slowing down its regeneration. This prevents GABA acids from keeping overwhelming emotions at bay, including anxiety.
Although it may sound like it, estrogen isn’t a character in Game of Thrones. Rather, it’s a group of hormones that develop and maintain the female reproductive system and female characteristics. All throughout the first half of your monthly cycle, this hormone is queen, rising and falling as it pleases. Unfortunately, the hormonal fluctuations of estrogen are linked to reduced levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin that's thought to regulate happiness, anxiety, and mood. This may then result in PMDD symptoms.
What can I do to help myself?
Since PMDD is a cyclical disorder, symptoms tend to go away 2 to 3 days after your period begins. However, it can be debilitating while you're going through it. So don't play it down or dismiss it if you think you have PMDD. Instead, see a licensed mental health professional.
You can also do your part in managing your symptoms by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day and get enough sleep (about 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night). Also, drink lots of water and indulge in healthful foods such as leafy green vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, modest amounts of lean red meat, and foods with plenty of fiber like grains and legumes.Lastly, don't forget to relieve yourself of stress that can worsen PMS or PMDD symptoms. One effective way to rest easy is wearing Ruby Love period apparel, like our Ruby Love Sleep Shorts and Sleep Pants, which you can wear with or without a pad for maximum protection and comfort, or our Ruby Love Period Bodysuits, which have up to 2.5 tampons' worth of absorbency depending on your flow (no tampon required!). With Ruby Love, you can move leak-free and worry-free, and that's one thing less to be anxious about! Check us out to have the time of your month.