Sexist jokes revolve around mood swings experienced by women before and during periods. However, the feelings of despair, general discontent, anxiety, insomnia, and lack of concentration are real and arise from hormonal fluctuations. So, what exactly is the connection between mental health and the menstrual cycle? Read this blog to find out.

Can Menstrual Cycle Affect Mental Health?

Well! You know the answer better. How will you describe your mental health during periods? What about your mental health status during the premenstrual phase? Research suggests that the premenstrual and premenstrual phases of the cycle are associated with the onset of health symptoms, including the symptoms of mental health for women.

Why Is Understanding Mental Health And Menstrual Cycles Important?

Understanding the mental health-related aspects of women's reproductive health helps you objectively look at your period-related mental health symptoms and manage them effectively. Knowing how hormonal shifts affect our brains and emotions empowers you to gradually take control of how you feel when Aunt Flo pays a visit.

How do Hormones Affect Mood During The Menstrual Cycle?

Estrogen and progesterone are the two directors when your reproductive cycle casts you in the monthly release of the shark week. This relationship between the ovarian hormones and brain chemistry determines your premenstrual and menstrual experience. Let us understand this process. Neurotransmitters, namely, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, regulate your mood. Estrogen and progesterone play a significant role in their synthesis. For example, estrogen increases serotonin production, serotonin receptor levels, and sensitivity to serotonin receptors. However, when estrogen drops during the second phase of the menstrual cycle, i.e., after ovulation, serotonin levels also decrease. It causes irritability, sadness, crying spells, disturbed sleep patterns, and difficulty focusing. Low estrogen levels also affect dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter linked to motivation, pleasure, and learning. The combination of low serotonin and dopamine levels makes your mood go haywire. It also increases norepinephrine (an excitatory chemical messenger) levels, which causes emotional imbalances.

Similarly, progesterone helps make the chemical called allopregnanolone, a natural anti-depressant. However, progesterone plummets when periods are approaching; allopregnanolone's levels take a hit and cause premenstrual symptoms like menstrual depression, anxiety, heaviness in the chest, and other types of mood disturbances.

What Are The Common Mental Health Issues During Periods?

Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) are the two most common period-related mental health conditions.

PMS occurs a week or two before the period and causes mood changes and physical symptoms such as bloating, sore nipples, back pain, etc. Pre-existing mental illnesses like depression, general anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder may worsen because of PMS.

PMDD, on the other hand, is a severe form of PMS. The emotional and mental symptoms disrupt daily life and make productivity go for a toss. Therefore, professional help is necessary to manage PMDD symptoms.

What Are Some Tips To Cope With Menstrual Depression?

A few lifestyle changes and mental health therapy or medications (or both, depending on the severity of the problem) can help alleviate menses-related emotional and mental symptoms. The following tips should help:

  • Use a mood-tracking app to monitor mood fluctuations during PMS and menstruation.
  • Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
  • Limit the consumption of foods high in salt, sugar, fat, and refined carbs. Instead, go for leafy greens, fresh fruits, sources of lean protein, and complex carbs to manage cravings.
  • Sleep well for 7-9 hours every day. Lack of restful sleep wreaks havoc on your mood.
  • Meditate, write a journal, or practice a hobby daily for 15-30 minutes as it helps in enhancing mood.

A tolerable degree of physical and mental discomfort is expected before and during periods. However, take action soon if the symptoms make your day-to-day life difficult. Consult your gynaecologist and psychologist.

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