Dealing With Bad Mood Swings and Depression? Find Out Why and What You Can Do To Help Control PMS Mood Swings

woman feeling moodyIn addition to all the physical symptoms and issues women have to deal with, they also have to deal with mood swings during their period.

Some of these swings are minor but some of them are debilitating and devastating.

What causes these moods?

Are they the most mysterious of menstrual cycle issues?

How bad can it get?

What are the remedies for these swings?

How can a woman take control over these menstrual cycle moods?

First let’s look at the symptoms and causes. Why do women experience these moods?

According to the NIH (National Institutes for Health) Medline Plus Division, these changes in mood can start 11 days before her period does. The changes in mood also tend to disappear when the period starts.

Symptoms and Causes

What is the cause of these moods? What happens within a women’s body during pms (Pre-menstrual Syndrome) and during menstruation that causes these mood swings? Certainly there are hormones in play and a hormone imbalance at work. No one really knows exactly what happens in the body to cause this emotional roller coaster. Some studies show no changes in these hormones while other studies show general increased in all hormones. PMS occurs before the cycle begins and there are certainly changes in moods during that time. Then during the period itself there can be serious mood alterations as well as after the period is over.

These feelings that a woman experiences before, during and after her period can range from depression to anger to rage. Not every woman suffers with these moods but a large majority does. It is the hormone estrogen that causes these changes in one’s mood. In the first stages of menstruation a women’s body increases the amount of estrogen that is produces by a dramatic rate. Estrogen actually adds to the good feelings that a woman might experience under normal circumstances. When estrogen is increased so are the endorphins, serotonin and enkephalins.

Because the woman’s body is preparing for pregnancy during the menstrual cycle these brain chemicals are increased to accommodate that. When the woman does not become pregnant these chemicals are quickly reduced and this is the cause of the moods that women experience. Women can go from feeling very good to feeling very bad in a very short period of time prior to her actual period. This is known as PMS or Pre Menstrual Syndrome.

During the time that estrogen is being produced in a large amount by the body, the lining of the uterus is increased and a woman can suffer many other symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle such as headaches, cramps, bloating, cravings, sore breasts and overall tension. All of these symptoms can contribute to the amount and the intensity of the mood swings during the period.

There is still another factor in these changes in moods for women during the menstrual cycle, and that is the presence of external stressors. These may be the normal stresses of her everyday life but they are multiplied during menstruation due to the other symptoms of the cycle.

How Bad is it Really:

If the emotional swings a woman experiences becomes too intense and too extreme, she might be suffering from Pre menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). When this happens it is really important to see a physician or find an alternative remedy that works as women suffering from PMDD can experience panic attacks, really bad depression even to the point of suicidal thoughts, anger that just keeps getting worse and even extreme rages. When it gets that bad there is really a need for outside help as most women cannot control that themselves. If these changes in mood are enough to impact the personal relationships of women then there is need for outside help. The predominant feelings when a woman has PMDD are high anxiety, being on edge, increasing and relentless irritability and unrelenting anger.

According to a Mayo Clinic study “Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe, sometimes disabling form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although regular PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt your work and damage your relationships. About 30 percent of menstruating women have PMS. Up to 8 percent of women with PMS have symptoms that meet the diagnostic criteria for PMDD.” (Mayo Clinic: 1998-2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research).

For most women however, their periodic moods are uncomfortable but not to the level of violence or rage. For most women these mood swings during their periods are an inconvenience at best and something they treat with medical, natural and home remedies. Those with serious PMDD will of course need strong medical treatments including drugs and perhaps hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Medical, Natural and Home Remedies:

There are herbal, supplemental, medication and natural remedies for these moods. This would include supplemental as well as vitamins and herbs. Essential fatty acids are important when it comes to balancing moods during the menstrual cycle.

Vitamins, Diet and Supplements:

Period VitaminFlaxseeds can provide those fatty acids that the body needs in order to balance the hormones and relieve the mood changes. Other dietary items that can help with the relief of moodiness of PMS include dairy, soya yoghurt, miso, wheat germ, brown rice, nuts, chickpeas, lentils and other beans will all help with the hormonal imbalance.

Vitamin B, Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant to balance hormones and emotions, Vitamin C, magnesium, B6 and zinc can assist in restoring the hormonal imbalance. Milk is also an excellent source of calcium to even out emotions during this time. 1200 mgs of calcium daily is recommended by the Mayo Clinic.

Vegetables and fruits that are particularly good include all peppers, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe and cranberries and cranberry juice. Good low glycemic carbohydrates will increase serotonin levels and help to increase positive emotions during the menstrual cycle.

Herbal Remedies:

There are a variety of herbal remedies that can assist with these mood swings during periods. St. John’s Wort is a commonly used herb for treatment of depression. Vervain tea is used as an anti-anxiety serum while relaxing the nervous system. This tea is commonly used to cure the mood swings brought on by PMS. Ginger, raspberry, black cohosh and dandelion herb are also recommended for restoring hormonal balance and emotional stability.

One other herb that is commonly used for the irritability and emotional changes of the menstrual cycle is Agnus castus (chaste tree berry). Chaste tree berry can be dangerous, especially if your family has any ovarian cysts history. This herb is available in tablets. Other herbs that can keep the moods from getting worse include chamomile, fennel, birch leaf, dong quai, ginkgo, raspberry leaf, lemon balm, and uva ursi.


Anti-depressants like Prozac, Cymbalta, Paxil, Paroxetine HCI or Zoloft can all assist in controlling PMDD and each of them are potentially what to take if all other remedies fail or symptoms are extreme to begin with. There are also some over the counter (OTC) medications that will help as well.

“PMS Escape” is an effective over the counter carbohydrate drink and Pamprin is more effective for PMS than is Midol. Both Midol and Pamprin are available over the counter. Tylenol and NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) help reduce the pain that comes with the period and that alone may relieve some of the moodiness.

L-tryptophan which increases serotonin is helpful. Birth control medication is an obvious remedy as it will prevent the buildup of hormones and shedding of uterine lining. This is only an option for women who have no desire to get pregnant.

Taking Control:

Yoga Pose for PMS Mood SwingsHow to deal with it is the overriding question and need of every woman who is suffering from mood swings during her period. If you cannot prevent it or stop it then there needs to be a way to control it. If everything we have discussed to this point fails, then we need a fallback position.

We need some way of taking control of these emotions at this critical time in one’s menstrual cycle. Every woman who really struggles with these emotional changes has to know what helps to at least gain some control when things are really bad.

One of the most important alternatives to drugs for keeping a women’s hormonal imbalance from causing her to have extreme anger or depression is aerobic exercise. This can be any kind of aerobic exercise and if need be, it can be combined with Yoga and meditation for the best results.

Yoga is becoming increasingly popular as a cure for this moodiness and clinical studies are under way to determine how real this is. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is critical to having some control over your emotions and the minimum should be 8 hours. Take advantage of a massage or even water aerobics.

There are many avenues for a woman to pursue when confronted with the emotional highs and lows of PMS. No matter what remedies a woman uses the point is to control mood swings during her period.