Why Do My Periods Make Me Feel Depressed And What Can I Do About It
Noticing a pattern in your behavior during certain times of the month that you don’t seem to be able to control regardless of what else is going on in your life? You’re not the only one. Experiencing bouts of depression in the lead up to getting your period, along with all of the many symptoms that go with it, is actually perfectly normal but that doesn't mean you can’t do anything about it. Read on to understand what exactly is happening in your body to make you feel like crying every time you hit your luteal phase hits, and what you can do to combat these symptoms.
Defining PMS & PMDD
So, most of us have heard of PMS. It stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and can be to blame for all sorts of feelings during the weeks between ovulation (when we usually feel on top of the world) and getting our period. This half of our monthly cycle is termed the luteal phase, and can make us feel depressed due to experiencing a rollercoaster of unexpected emotions such as anger, sadness and irritability, not to mention the other symptoms such as headaches, forgetfulness, nausea, loss of libido, acne, fatigue, insomnia, bloating, stomach aches, cravings and bodily aches. It’s no wonder it can all make us feel terrible, and in some cases these symptoms can be even worse, leading to a condition called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. PMDD as it is abbreviated to, can cause a complete loss of interest in social activities, and lead to panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts, so it really isn't something to be ignored. PMS can also exacerbate any pre-existing mental health problems that you might be dealing with such as bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or persistent depressive disorder, so be mindful of this.(scroll down to read more)
Why Do They Occur
Understanding why this is happening to you is always a good place to start, and can help you feel more normal, and less isolated in your experiences. Put simply, what is happening in your body during this phase is the result of your female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) falling after ovulation. This in turn causes your levels of serotonin and dopamine to drop, which are widely known as ‘the happiness hormones’. As health blogger Sara Myers at Assignment Services and Simple Grad notes, “lower levels of these hormones in the body have been linked to poor sleep, low motivation levels and higher instances of sadness and anxiety.” Fortunately however, levels of estrogen and progesterone do rise again so shortly after you begin your period, so hang in there and know that you will start to feel better again soon.
While there is no one-fits-all answer for this problem as women are each so unique in their cycles, symptoms and responses to treatment methods, there are a lot of different tactics you can try to ease your experiences. To know what you are dealing with, it is a good idea to begin by tracking which symptoms you tend to suffer from the most, and when to expect them. You can do this via a specific period-tracker app, or just use a written diary. This can also make it easier to discuss your situation with your doctor should you need to.
Some great home remedies to try include adjusting your diet and the quantities of exercise, sleep and external stressors that you are getting. By doing this you can fight back against decreasing levels of happy hormones, giving your body the best chance it can to produce dopamine and serotonin from other activities unrelated to your period. Exercise and particularly yoga can help release positive endorphins and getting extra sleep can boost your serotonin levels too. Likewise, as Sasha Pinewood from StudyDemic and UKWritings advises, “reducing the levels of sugars, fats, complex carbs, alcohol and caffeine in your diet can also help stabilize your fluctuating moods and a focus on adding certain vitamins such as calcium, B6 and magnesium (easily found in leafy greens, nuts, dairy products, fish and white meat) can also help reduce symptoms.”
Obviously though, home remedies are not always enough to tackle severe cases of the syndrome. In these cases it is best to consult your doctor for tailored advice, and if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts as a result of your cycle, always call the emergency services or a suicide hotline for immediate help. While most of the medications that your doctor will be able to suggest are trial and error solutions which do not come without their own side-effects, there are a variety of potentially effective drugs available that can help with PMS and PMDD. These include certain methods of birth control such as the pill or the patch (although it is worth noting that these have also been known to worsen some women’s symptoms), antidepressants or in the case of PMDD particularly, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.
The main takeaway from this discussion however is to know that you are not alone, you can talk to people about this and you are completely normal even if your hormones are making you feel far from that! There are lots of things you can do to help combat your period-blues, although it is always a personal journey about what works best for you as an individual and complements your lifestyle.
Want to stay in the know and read more helpful tips about health, wellness and personal growth, subscribe to our newsletter email here.
Super thin and absorbent, NannoPad® is a must-have for a healthier period. It is developed to help with your menstrual discomfort in a holistic and effective way. See reviews here.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.
Lauren Groff, a health writer at Best Essay Services and Academadvisor also spends a large proportion of her time focusing on topics surrounding mental health. She is also a long-time contributor of content for Student Writing Services.