Exploring the Link Between Anxiety and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

By: Suzanne Feinstein, PhD

In the United States, approximately one in three people will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. This can lead to substantial decreases in one’s quality of life, such as being unable to socialize or function optimally.

While anxiety can have many causes (such as past trauma), it’s also believed that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is associated with the onset of anxiety. Understanding the link between anxiety and PMS can help ensure you can accommodate this condition effectively. Let’s explore the key information you need to know when moving forward.

Anxiety and PMS

Premenstrual syndrome is a combination of psychiatric and physical symptoms that women experience during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycles. This phase starts after ovulation and ends once women get their period.

It generally lasts about two weeks. It’s not uncommon for women to experience major mood complications during this period. It’s believed that anxiety occurs due to the body’s fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels.

These hormones are prone to sharply rising and falling during the luteal phase. Your body prepares for pregnancy after ovulation by increasing and decreasing your hormone levels. This can impact your brain’s neurotransmitters, primarily serotonin and dopamine.

Since these are associated with mood regulation, it’s notably easy for someone to become anxious if these levels are off. Some women are more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations than others. This causes them to feel the effects of PMS with greater intensity.

Signs of Something More Serious

In some cases, you could be dealing with premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD) instead of PMS. The same can be said about premenstrual exacerbation (PME). Let’s explore these in detail below.

PMDD

Government research estimates that approximately 5% of menstruating women experience PMDD. The symptoms are often intense enough to interfere with one’s daily life. Some of the most notable include anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

This disorder is known to affect existing mental health issues as well. For example, someone prone to experiencing depression would likely have feelings of intense sadness while managing PMDD. Keep this in mind if you feel overly anxious around the time you get your period each month.

PME

This condition occurs when an existing health issue becomes amplified during the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle. Someone’s anxiety, for instance, could become substantially worse. Other conditions that could become exacerbated include migraines, seizures, eating disorders, and depression.

The most notable attribute of PME is that affected individuals experience their symptoms throughout the month. During the luteal phase, the symptoms become far worse.

Some women are more sensitive to this increase than others. Their mental health can become unmanageable without treatment or prevention.

Alleviating Your Symptoms of PMS

While PMS comes with no shortage of issues, it’s possible to alleviate them by taking the right steps. Doing so can provide a sharp increase in your quality of life. Let’s explore the most notable ways you can do so.

Get More Sleep

This is often easier said than done, but it’s an effective method you can use for relieving your anxiety. However, it’s worth noting that sleep consistency is just as important as the total amount of time you sleep.

It’s best to establish a regular sleep schedule so your body gets used to going to sleep at the same time each night. This is true for weekends, as well, so it’s beneficial to avoid staying up too late on Fridays and Saturdays.

Exercise

Getting more exercise can do wonders for your overall health, and it can also help you manage your anxiety. In particular, aerobic exercise has significant benefits in improving circulation and mitigating the painful symptoms of PMS.

Common forms of aerobic exercise include swimming, walking, running, and playing sports. Choose one you enjoy and set realistic goals so you will be more likely to sustain your exercise routine.

Improve Your Diet

Your diet should include plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables. Undereating can lead to increased anxiety, so it’s essential to get enough calories each day. Keep your intake in check, though, so you avoid unnecessary weight gain.

You can also take supplements if you have a difficult time getting the right amount of nutrients in your diet. Calcium, vitamin B6, and magnesium supplements can help you manage the psychological symptoms of PMS.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you relax and stay grounded. Performing these daily will help stave off anxiety attacks and make it easier to manage your mental health. These also have the added benefit of reducing your stress levels.

Seeking Treatment

Professional therapy services can have significant benefits toward helping you achieve anxiety relief. This is a powerful resource that can help you overcome the mental health issues you face during the luteal phase of your cycle.

Finding the right therapist isn’t always easy, though. It’s essential to look at their past reputation before making your decision. This will help ensure you find the right professional for your needs.

Do you feel comfortable communicating with them? Your results are strongly influenced by how easy it is for you to speak with your therapist. If something about them makes you uncomfortable, you should look for other opportunities.

Their industry experience also plays a large role. It’s best to find someone who has helped clients for at least a decade. This will help ensure they’ve handled plenty of people like you in the past.

Don’t Neglect This Condition

Understanding the connection between anxiety and PMS is crucial for preserving your mental health. The information in this guide will help you to recognize issues that need attention and to seek appropriate treatment.

Advanced Behavioral Health uses specialized therapy models to help our clients overcome their mental health disorders. These include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), dialectic behavior therapy (DBT), and many more. You’ll learn more about the benefits we provide our patients when you get in touch with us today.

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