Changes In Brain Chemicals
A research study published in Nature Neuroscience revealed the changes
that take place in the brain chemicals before and during the menstrual cycle,
as a means to help explain why some women are more prone to experiencing
anxiety during this time.
Although studies are ongoing, these
findings will hopefully provide greater insight as to why women develop
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and also how they can be helped and/or
Anxiety Can Increase During Menstrual Cycle
Studies have shown that women who
have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) suffer more with
severe anxiety during their menstruation period compared to any other days of
There are also women who only
experience anxiety when they are having their periods.
Generally, women are more prone to
anxiety than men, and a woman’s anxiety symptoms are more likely to intensify
during their menstruation cycle.
Possible Causes of Anxiety Before and During Menstruation
1. Changes in Estrogen and Progesterone Levels
Hormonal changes take place prior to
and during menstruation This makes a woman very prone to their emotional and
physical side effects and increase her likelihood of experiencing anxiety.
Fluctuations in a woman’s
progesterone and estrogen levels can impact not only her energy levels, but
also her digestive system and appetite. For some women these related changes
can also cause heightened anxiety levels.
However, experts also confirm that
there are several factors that come into play that increase a woman’s risk of
anxiety. In other words, there is no single, simple reason or cause why women
experience anxiety before or during their menstruation cycle.
2. Increase in Cortisol Levels
There are studies which have shown
that a woman’s cortisol levels increase before and during her menstruation
period. Cortisol is a stress hormone and having high levels of cortisol can
cause both stress and anxiety. One side effect of too much stress and anxiety
is food cravings.
Quite often a woman will turn to
comfort foods if she is suffering with PMS and/or anxiety. This in turn can
cause bloating and weight gain, another reason for anxiety to become
3. Fear of PMS Symptoms
A woman’s anxiety at this time may
not always be caused by fluctuations of her hormones. It’s almost like the
‘chicken and the egg’ theory or question. Which one comes first? Is it the PMS
causing any anxiety symptoms to rise, or is it the thought of suffering with
PMS symptoms that also brings on the stress and anxiety?
This occurs because some women who
experience difficult and extremely painful periods begin to panic when they
sense PMS symptoms beginning. It’s their sign that their period is almost upon
them. The memory of past pain from previous experiences is enough to trigger
stress and subsequent anxiety symptoms.
There are many well-used and proven
methods to help reduce this debilitating fear and its painful consequences.
Many have found success in meditation, yoga and other natural disciplines that
help provide feelings of control, instead of feeling at the mercy of a
If these do not provide relief, consult a
doctor. An assisted therapy such as acupuncture or CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
may be required.