All content within this page has been reviewed and endorsed by
Dr Anne Henderson, Consultant Gynaecologist
You always want to be prepared for your period, by having the right supplies and time to change them to stay fresh. However, some women also focus on the emotions they experience each month.
This leads to the question: Can PMS cause anxiety?
The hormones related to your cycle do play a role in making you feel more insecure and anxious. However, if you experience excessive worrying, tension and nervousness, you are facing a different level of anxiety.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) brings on physical and psychological symptoms during the luteal phase of your period, i.e. the phase between ovulation and the end of bleeding. Fortunately, there are some ways to relieve PMS anxiety before it builds up to full-scale panic.
In the run-up to your period, your hormones fluctuate in ways that make you moodier and less able to cope with these changes.
Firstly, oestrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically once your body realises it isn’t pregnant. This affects the neurotransmitters in your brain, particularly the ones that regulate your mood – serotonin and dopamine – leaving you feeling depressed and/or anxious. Meanwhile, your cortisol levels rise rapidly in the days before your period begins, making you feel more anxious. If you know bad cramps or bloating are on their way, you are probably already on edge, so this just makes it worse. If your sleep is also interrupted by these thoughts, you are even less able to cope with these emotions.
Some women are more sensitive to hormonal changes, which makes them more vulnerable to their ups and down. While it is not clear why this happens, genetics is the main suspect.
Severe anxiety can be a sign of two more serious issues that may require a visit to your doctor.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) affects 1 in 20 women to the point where their moods and other symptoms impact their daily lives. There is an increased risk if a family member has anxiety or depression.
Watch out for the following symptoms:
Premenstrual exacerbation occurs when pre-existing anxiety intensifies in the days leading up to your period. While it is related to the disorder described above, in this case your anxiety is a constant throughout the entire month, but gets worse during PMS.
Other conditions that can intensify during the luteal phase are depression, seizures, substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia and migraines.
Although genetics and hormones can throw you a curveball, you can manage these symptoms in a variety of ways.
Take charge of your mental health by doing the following things to relieve PMS anxiety:
If you feel that you need more support, via medication or therapy, there are a few options to discuss with your doctor:
Disclaimer: This information aims to answer some of your questions or concerns. If you are worried about your health, talk to your family doctor or your gynecologist for professional medical advice.