5 Ways Periods Affect Your Mental Health
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome, or more popularly known as PMS, can affect you anytime between the end of ovulation stage and the beginning of the menstrual period. Some common symptoms include aches, pains, bloating as the physical symptoms and feeling irritable, anger, depressed and anxious as the mental and emotional symptoms. These symptoms vary from individual to individual but the main cause of them is clear -Hormonal changes. After ovulation, the hormonal levels, being estrogen and progesterone, begin to fall. This rapid rising and falling hormonal levels affect your brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, that influence mood; sleep; and motivation, get significantly modified.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD is considered to be the more extreme form of PMS. The symptoms of PMDD typically occur prior to the menstrual cycle and conclude right when menstruation starts. The mental/emotional symptoms include emotional lability, anxiety, panic attacks and depression, as well as disturbances in sleep, appetite, energy and focus. These are usually so severe that they affect the person’s daily life activities and, sometimes, even their relationships with others. The prevalence of PMDD has shown to affect 3–8% of people with menstrual cycles.
PMDD’s tendency to mirror Depression
The symptoms of PMDD have a considerable inclination to resemble symptoms of major or clinical depression. This indicates that women suffering from PMDD also bear the risk of major depression and an increased risk of suicide during the two weeks they are affected from PMDD. An estimated 15% of women with PMDD attempt suicide in their lifetime.
A personal or family history of mood disorders, including major depression or postpartum depression, is a major factor for being susceptible to PMDD but unlike major depression, PMDD symptoms lessen or go away at the start of your period.
It is proven that the hormonal changes occurring before periods can make the symptoms of an existing mental health condition worse and this effect is termed as Premenstrual Exacerbation. Certain research strongly suggests that depression tends to be more prevalent among those with PMS than in those without this condition. Some prevalent disorders that may co-occur with PMS like bipolar disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, among others.
Periods and mental disorders: a two-way street
Whatever information you may have retained from above, it is important to note that it goes the other way round also. As a matter of fact, mental health conditions can cause period problems and even worsen them. Studies show that shorter menstrual cycles are strongly linked to anxiety disorder or substance use disorder, while irregular cycles are more common for women with eating disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder.
A lot of these symptoms can be curbed through lifestyle changes such as eliminating caffeine, sugar, and alcohol from your diet can go a long way. Then treatments like hormonal medication, and nutritional supplements like Vitamin B6, magnesium and Vitamin E have helped women with severe symptoms considerably. Most importantly, individuals experiencing regular depressive episodes before or during their period are recommended to speak to a doctor and start the available treatment that may help their condition.
We earnestly hope this blog has been informative and helpful! Topics like periods and mental health are important conversations to be had. Share this post with your friends and family to help #BreakTheShush together!