(BlackDoctor.org) — Not only do menstrual cycles bring on unwanted symptoms such as cramps and bloating, they can also bring on anxiety. Some women who have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, may notice even more severe anxiety during their periods than at any other time during the month. Other women may only experience anxiety symptoms when they get their periods.
Menstruation leads to a number of hormonal changes that can cause physical and emotional effects that may contribute to anxiety. There is no single reason for this anxiety, but multiple factors probably are at work.
Fluctuations in powerful hormones that regulate menstruation, such as estrogen and progesterone, can affect a woman’s appetite, digestion and energy levels, all of which can, in turn, affect her mood. This may have an impact on psychological functioning. Additionally, women who have had difficult periods in the past, due to intense cramping or heavy bleeding, may worry about recurrent pain and discomfort prior to menstruation, and this can also cause added anxiety.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help alleviate menstruation-related anxiety. If you suffer from stress or anxiety during your period, try the following:
• Exercise on a regular basis.
• Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
• Be sure to get enough sleep; seven to eight hours a night is optimal for most people.
• Minimize your alcohol and caffeine intake.
• Avoid tobacco.
• Spend time relaxing with friends and family.
• Express your thoughts and emotions by writing in a journal.
• Consider meditation and deep-breathing exercises.
• For women who continue to experience significant anxiety symptoms, medication is also an option.
Anxiety is a common PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptom for many women, but just like cramps and bloating, anxiety can and should be managed. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Medication can help control severe anxiety, but there are also plenty of things you can do to help yourself. Minimizing stress, exercising regularly, and eating well can help alleviate many PMS symptoms, including anxiety.