Mood swings before or during the first few days of the menstrual cycle is quite common amongst women of the child bearing age. However, the extent of mood swings varies extensively from person to person. For many, it is just some irritability caused due to physical uncomfortableness, while for some other ladies it can take even a turn for depression. If in your case it takes turn for the worst, and you feel really depressed before or during menstruation, there is nothing to worry because you are not the only one riding the boat.
Menstrual depression symptoms
The female menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones named estrogen and progesterone. Different levels of these hormones in the body of women during different times of the menstrual cycle naturally affect the body as well as the mind. For many ladies the pre-menstrual mood swings mostly include irritability, fatigue, low energy, lack of appetite, while for many others it can be much severe resulting into anxiety, panic attacks, crying, despair, inability to concentrate and others. If these changed feelings start to appear every month just a few daysbefore your menstruation and vanish on its own after a few days of menstruation, you will know for sure that these are only your hormones that is playing with your mood or making you depressed.
The way out
If your mood swings during menstruation is not anything that can be categorized as depression, making yourself realize that it is just your hormones can itself be helpful. On the other hand, if your symptoms are more towards depression then it is important for you to take some serious measures. The best thing about it is that, the menstrual depression which is often characterized as a premenstrual symptom can be treated effectively with medications and simple lifestyle changes. So, it is best to first make some lifestyle changes when you are suffering from depression during or before menstruation. If these lifestyle changes seem to be ineffective, you might opt to seek suggestions from your gynecologist.
Till now scientists have not been able to come up with the exact reason of the menstrual depression or mood swings. While mood swings are normally associated with physical uncomfortableness, depression is believed to be caused due to the changed levels of estrogen in the body, which might impact the brain chemical, serotonin levels, inducing depression. In this article we have included some simple lifestyle changes that can be actually effective to treat the depression as well as mood swings before and during menstruation.
During the pre-menstrual stage you might not at all feel like doing any physical exercise, but in reality, exercising is the best way to treat depression during or before menstruation. It is believed that the falling estrogen levels in the body during menstruation might impact the serotonin or the feel good hormone levels in the brain, which again works as the primary reason for the mood swings and depression. Exercising is the natural way of boosting serotonin secretion in the body which can be really helpful to balance the mood and to cure the depression.
During pre-menstrual stage or during the first few days of menstruation when you are suffering from mood swings or depression you really need not to opt for any straining exercises. Opt for some simple cardio, like walking, light jogging, running, cycling, simple free hand exercises daily and you are sure to feel better. If you can take part in any active sports, it is sure to help in curing the depression and mood swings.
Take frequent small meals
Instead of taking 3 big meals during the day, taking frequent small meals can be another good option to control the depression or mood swings before or during menstruation. Studies have shown that changes in the blood glucose level might be related with mood swings and if you are taking only 3 big meals during the day, it is sure to affect your blood glucose levels. By taking frequent short meals you can ensure a stable glucose level in the blood which can be actually helpful to fight the depression. Low levels of sugars in the blood can directly take part into mood swings, crying spells and irritability. So, eat little but frequently in this span to keep depression at bay.
Check your consumption of caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol both can work as a trigger for insomnia as well as anxiety. Right before or during your menstruation when you are going through mood swings or mild depression already, it is best to stay away from both caffeine and alcohol. These things help in relaxing your nerves for the time being, but shortly after hitting the peak they trigger a fall in the mood, which can increase the depression. So, it is best to stay away from these things when you are going through this phase of the cycle.
Stay away from sweets
Candy, cola, ice creams, pastries all these sugary delicious foods should be kept out of your list of eatables for the span, because sweets can cause steep rise in the blood sugar levels which is often followed by a steep fall. Changes in the blood sugar levels can be related with mood swings and hence staying away from sweets for the time being is a good option.
Enjoy a little of dark chocolate at a time
While it is best suggested to stay away from sweets before or during your menstruation cycle when you are suffering from depression or mood swings, enjoying a little of dark chocolate at times can be a good idea. Dark chocolate has a much less sugar percentage and you need to keep the amount of dark chocolate to be taken at a time restricted as well. Dark chocolate has been found to increase the secretion of serotonin or the feel good hormone in the brain, which can be really effective to fight any depression or mood swings.
Take some calcium and Vitamin B6 supplements
Studies have shown that taking calcium and Vitamin B6 supplements before and during menstruation might be helpful to reduce the premenstrual symptoms including mood swings and depression. However, again scientists have no idea how calcium supplements help in easing the PMS and depression. Taking a light calcium supplement before and during menstruation might be helpful to reduce the depression and mood swings. Vitamin B6 on the other hand is believed to alleviate mood by boosting the synthesis of serotonin in the brain and hence might be helpful to reduce the menstrual depression. However, before you start taking any of these supplements on a regular basis before and during your menstrual cycle, it is best to talk with your doctor for the right dose.
Stress adds to the mood swings and depression and hence by keeping stress at bay you can effectively fight with depression during menstruation most effectively. Sleep at least 8 hours at night during these days and make sure that you get adequate rest when you need it. Pampering yourself, spending time on your hobby or something that you like to do can be a good way to remove stress naturally. Meditation, deep breathing can also be very helpful for removing stress and fighting the mood swings and depression.
Yogasanas are most effective for controlling depression and mood swings during menstruation. Yogasanas involve stretching the muscles, which ease out the cramps in the stomach and helps in relaxing the muscles. Yoga also helps in calming the mind and relieving stress which is most helpful for fighting depression. Practicing every yoga pose might not be ideal during your menstruation but you can surely do some of the simpler ones to get the relaxing and stretching effects of it.
Do something creative
If you are able to point your depression as premenstrual or menstrual symptom, then one of the best ways to treat it is to engage yourself in something creative. Engaging in creative things will surely help your mind to stay focused on something that you enjoy, which can be effective to control the mood swings and the depression. Painting, writing, reading, handcrafting all can be helpful to treat the depression by keeping your brain busy with something more enjoyable.
Some herbs believed to treat menstrual depression
There are some herbs that are believed to ease premenstrual symptoms including depression and mood swings. Some of these most noted herbs include,
Evening primrose oil is known to ease the PMS depression. This oil is believed to reduce the production of prostaglandins in the body which might have an effect in triggering depression. Consuming 500 mgs of evening primrose oil before menstruation is believed to ease the depression.
Black cohosh is commonly used in ancient medicine for treating premenopausal symptoms. This herb can also be used for controlling sleep disturbances and irritability which often triggers the PMS depression.
A number of clinical trials have found that chasteberry can be highly effective in controlling the irritability, mood swings and depression before and during menstruation. It also helps in curing problems like bloating and breast tenderness which can add to the mood swings.