No woman needs to be told twice that periods have the power to totally mess with our bodies. The days or weeks leading up to that time of the month can bring on any number of symptoms, from physical ailments to unexplained emotions to debilitating pain—all bundled up under the umbrella of PMS.
And if you've noticed your anxiety spike before or during your period, it's not just an unfortunate coincidence. "Because of differences in brain chemistry and the impact of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, women are already more likely than men to suffer from anxiety disorders and even panic attacks," explains Prudence Hall, MD, on MindBodyGreen. "And these can definitely be more pronounced right before and during their periods."
Hormones control and regulate our bodies as well as our mental health. Hall, author of the forthcoming book Radiant Again & Forever and founder of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California, says that "due to hormonal fluctuations, PMS interrupts and upsets that balance, often triggering symptoms like increased anxiety." Hall has a few recommendations for feeling better when your anxiety has been triggered.
Two holistic approaches are to overhaul your diet and lifestyle. An anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in animal products can help ease the anxiety-inducing effects of PMS. She also recommends avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Staying active with exercise and taking a time out with meditation can also help your body to find balance—and, of course, getting enough sleep every night.
For a more aggressive strategy, Hall suggests coming off hormonal birth control and switching to an alternative that may work better for you. You can also "ask your doctor about bioidentical estrogen, as well as natural dietary supplements that combat anxiety and help promote sleep and proper digestion," recommends Hall.
Take a Well-Deserved Time Out
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