Aug 2021

Anxiety & Your Period

  • By: Samantha Denäe

Anxiety is something we’ve all dealt with. On a daily basis, anxiety may affect us in many ways, but what about how much anxiety we draw when it surrounds our period? When the start of your period is coming, our anxiety about the period itself along with its symptoms comes in full throttle, but why? 

Anxiety, which is a symptom of PMS, onsets in response to the changing levels of the reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones will rise and fall dramatically during the luteal phase of menstruation, which is the stage that occurs after ovulation and before your period begins. 

Simply, as your body prepares for pregnancy it will increase hormone production after ovulation. If an egg does not implant, the estrogen and progesterone levels will drop and you get your period. As your hormone levels go up and down, neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, will have an effect on the regulation of your mood. This could partially explain experiences of psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, and mood swings that occurs during PMS.

For some, PMS symptoms are stronger than others. Hormonal fluctuations can also cause people to be more sensitive. Severe premenstrual anxiety can sometimes be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or premenstrual exacerbation (PME).

PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder):

PMDD is a mood disorder that is a severe extension of PMS. It can cause extreme mood shifts that can interfere with your daily life, work, and relationships. Symptoms will usually dissipate with the onset of your period. PMDD is also closely associated with preexisting mental health disorders. 

The symptoms include:

  • Irritability or anger 
  • Sadness, hopelessness, or despair
  • Tension or on edge
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent crying
  • Lack of interest in activities or relationships
  • Struggling to think or focus
  • Low energy or lethargy 
  • Binge eating
  • Restless sleeping
  • Feeling out of control
  • Cramps and bloating 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Joint or muscle pain

PME (Premenstrual Exacerbation):

PME is the premenstrual exacerbation or worsening of symptoms associated with another disorder. Simply, if you suffer from a preexisting condition, when it’s time for your period the symptoms of that disorder will be exacerbated during the luteal phase of your cycle.

Those with PME experience symptoms all month but will worsen in the coming weeks before your period.

Preexisting conditions that can flare up before your period include:

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Migraine 
  • Seizures 
  • Substance use disorder
  • Eating disorders 
  • Schizophrenia 


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