You may feel happy one minute and irritated or depressed the next. In short, your mood swings. This can be very disruptive to daily life and affect relationships at work and home. Your menstrual cycle causes your hormone levels to fluctuate and this can affect your mood. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter related to feelings of well being and happiness, has been shown to vary during menstruation. A low level of serotonin is related to psychological menstrual complaints and mood.1,2
How to handle mood swings
Mood swings are most common in the days before menstruation and can vary from mild to debilitating for some women. Having to deal with them every month is frustrating. Understanding that your symptoms have a hormonal cause can be helpful and give you a different perspective. There are several things you can do to help you manage your mood swings.
Tips to help you balance your mood
- Avoid stressful situations if you can. While scientists know that external stresses don’t cause premenstrual mood swings, it is widely accepted that they don’t help.
- Extensive research has identified the positive benefits and role of omega-3 fatty acids in combatting depression and anxiety.3 Studies conducted by the UK’s National Institute for Health suggest that omega-3 can be more effective than prescribed medicines at easing depression for some people. Foods rich in omega-3 include walnuts, olive oil and salmon.
- Numerous studies show that processed and sugary foods cause extreme fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. 4,5 This can affect your mood. Eat small frequent meals. This will help balance your blood sugar levels, which can help to alleviate mood swings.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and will affect your mood.
- Use exercise to help balance your mood. When you exercise, hormones called endorphins are released in the brain. These can lift your mood and give you a feeling of happiness and well-being.6
- Research suggests that caffeine (in coffee, tea and caffeine containing beverages) can exacerbate menstrual complaints. 7,8,9 Drink no more than 4 cups of coffee per day. Even better: drink herb tea or mineral water.
- If you're in a bad mood, smile and try to laugh. It can make you feel better. Your brain doesn’t recognise the difference between a real or fake smile or laugh. Best of all, do something you really enjoy that’s guaranteed to make you smile.
1. Hindberg, I. & Naesh, O. Serotonin concentrations in plasma and variantions during the menstrual cycle. Clin Chem 38, 2087–2089 (1992).
2. Serotonin and Depression: 9 Questions and Answers. at http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/serotonin#4.
3. Johnson T.B Antidepressant and alternative approaches to helping choldren and adolescents struggling with depression. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry Vol 12, Number 3 2010.
4. O’Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M. & O’Keefe, J. O. Dietary Strategies for Improving Post-Prandial Glucose, Lipids, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Health. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 51, 249–255 (2008)..
5. Westman, E. C. et al. Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism 1 – 3. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 86, 276–284 (2007).
6. Viña, J., Sanchis-Gomar, F., Martinez-Bello, V. & Gomez-Cabrera, M. C. Exercise acts as a drug; The pharmacological benefits of exercise. Br. J. Pharmacol. 167, 1–12 (2012)..
7. Gynecologists, T. A. C. of O. and. Premenstrual syndrome. Glob. J. Health Sci. 6, 121–125 (2014)..
8. Mackay Rossignol, A. & Bonnlander, H. Caffeine-containing beverages, total fluid consumption, and premenstrual syndrome. Am. J. Public Health 80, 1106–1110 (1990)..
9. Caffeine and Premenstrual Syndrome. 1980 (1987).
Tip: Nutri-Gyn MenstruCalm helps you control mood swings related to your menstrual cycle.