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3 Simple Steps to Reduce PMS Mood Swings

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

Yup, we’ve all been there! But luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Most of us have heard all the variations of what PMS stands for: “Pass My Sweats,” “Pissy Mood Syndrome,” and even “Psychotic Mood Swings.”  More often than not, we take it lightly, and remain guiltily aware that we can make a righteous claim to all the sugar we want anytime during the week leading up to menstruation. Calories don’t count on our period days anyway, right? 

On a more serious note, about 90% of women experience premenstrual symptoms at some point in their life, with a combination of emotional, physical, psychological, and mood disturbances. These disturbances can seriously affect relationships, work life, and overall mental well-being especially if these symptoms are not managed and treated properly. While 20% of women deal with symptoms so severe that they need to seek medical treatment, about 8% of women have also been more recently diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This affects those who experience increasingly extreme symptoms, including sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, severe moodiness, and anger throughout their cycle.

Underlying depression is common in both PMS and PMDD, and far too many people are still uneducated about this. The suicide rate for women with depression is much higher in the second half of the menstrual cycle, which is 14 days before the period begins. Regardless of where you fall on the scale in terms of symptom severity, it will pass, and you are not alone. 

While countless medications are readily available (and often necessary) to aid with symptom relief, I am a big advocate for also seeking natural solutions to better understanf the root of the problem. This leads to the question: what actually causes PMS? 

According to medical professional Dr. Hyman, PMS makes “your hormones become unbalanced, your estrogen levels increase and progesterone levels decrease, either relatively or absolutely.” Taking this into consideration, let’s look at the following three simple ways that can positively contribute to reducing hormone imbalances, which can often lead to depression caused by PMS depression. 

1. Maintain a clean diet. 

Maintaining a clean diet all month long is an effective approach to managing PMS symptoms before they even occur. While eliminating chocolate altogether may seem next to impossible during this time, a clean diet should include:

  • No refined flour, sugar, or processed foods.
  • No caffeine or alcohol.
  • Increasing fibre from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Increasing omega-3 fats from eggs and walnuts.

2. Get moving! 

Exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do when cramps creep up on you and your depressed state prevents you from finding even an ounce of motivation from within, but did you know that exercise releases endorphins that help to relieve pain? Two key benefits of this include the release of:

  • Dopamine, which enhances pleasures and satisfaction.
  • Serotonin, which helps to fight depression and anxiety. 
  • More importantly, if you don’t feel like doing something you know you should, that’s all the more reason to do it! I challenge you to challenge yourself! 

3. Prioritize yourself

Find some time in your schedule to take time for yourself. Some simple and natural ways to address stress include:

  • A hot bath or shower before bed
  • A professional massage
  • Meditation at the start of your day
  • Writing things down

Let’s aim for a healthy mind in a healthy body for a healthy life. Don’t try to settle for one or the other, even if it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get there!

Sources: Cover, 1, 2, 3