First a quick explanation on what your hormones are doing before, during, and after your period.
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period. For most women this will last anywhere from three to seven days. During this time, estrogen and progesterone levels drop down to next to nothing, which is partly what is responsible for the bloating, diarrhoea and stomach cramps many women experience.
Next comes the Follicular phase, though technically it does overlaps a little with your period. This phase typically ends around day 14 of your cycle, which is when Ovulation happens.
Lastly, we’ve got the Luteal phase. That’s where PMS symptoms, including anxiety, really kick into high gear.
At the same time, your body sends an egg traveling down your fallopian tubes where it’s fertilised – or not, in which case, your body has to rid itself of that thickened lining and the whole cycle starts all over again with your period.
To explain Anxiety the two parts we care about are the Luteal phase – that week right before your period begins – and the actual period itself. If you’re not pregnant, that’s when your estrogen and progesterone levels start free-falling, which some experts theorise could play a major role in worsening anxiety.
Another possible culprit is the hormone called Cortisol. Sometimes called the stress hormone, cortisol levels rise right before your period starts. It is possible that women suffering from this type of PMS anxiety have lower levels of anxiety throughout the month that are simply exacerbated by cortisol, rather than PMS.
Prostaglandins may also play a role. Thanks to the uterine contractions these hormones trigger, they play a key role in period cramps but it is also possible they contribute to an upswing in mood swings. If you do suffer increased anxiety in the week before your period, here are a few simple steps you can take to mitigate this annoying problem.
Start practicing good sleep habits leading up to your period, since a lack of sleep can definitely worsen existing anxiety and contribute to new anxiety.
Start to limit your evening caffeine intake and reading a calming book, meditating, listening to soft music or doing a restorative yoga routine to help you unwind before bed.
You might also want to go easy on the alcohol, because it’s notorious for disrupting sleep, and any kind of poor quality sleep or dehydration can make anxiety symptoms worse.
Daily exercise we know is important but especially before your period and during your period. This is because it releases a lot of endorphins that help with stress, anxiety, and pain relief.
Your anxiety shouldn’t negatively interfere with your day-to-day life or activities. If your symptoms are so debilitating that your life grinds to a halt – you can’t focus on work, you’re in so much pain you have to cancel plans with friends or family, for example – the week before your period, it’s possible you may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of PMS that’s often accompanied by insomnia, anxiety, depression, severe cramps, a lack of energy, and muscle aches.
If that sounds like you, talk to your doctor – lifestyle changes may help but many women find relief from birth control pills or taking antidepressants in the second half of their cycle.
Most importantly: You’re not alone if you suffer from premenstrual anxiety. It is actually quite common, and there is a lot of help available.
Do you get anxious right before or during your period? Share your anxiety hacks in the comments!
Original article by Alanna Nuñez for Thinx.
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