I wanted to write another post focusing on women’s health whilst incorporating the topic of mental health. Recently I had quite a severe ‘relapse’ which was partly due to heightened symptoms of PMS. I thought this would be the perfect thing to write about as I have had a lot of different experiences recently and feel that this is something which isn’t talked about much. The majority of females will suffer from symptoms of PMS, however these can be much more severe and perhaps detrimental when you have a mental health condition.
As always, this post is based on my own personal experiences and things which have helped me. If you do have concerns about your mental health or PMS symptoms please visit your GP!
So without further ado, let’s begin!
What is PMS? ♡
PMS stands for ‘Premenstrual Syndrome’ and defines the symptoms which occur during the 2 weeks before your period starts. These can include physical symptoms such as cramping and breast pain and psychological symptoms such as tiredness and low mood.
As mentioned before, most women will experience some form of PMS and it is very common, however, a few women can suffer from more severe symptoms, especially if they also have a mental health condition. Occasionally, this is diagnosed as its own disorder known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD. (This is not something I have been diagnosed with and I will not be talking about this in the post as I don’t have much experience with it. If you’re interested in finding out more information about PMDD visit: http://www.webmd.com/women/pms/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder#1)
Mental Health symptoms I experience ♡
Depression/Low Mood 💜
My mood can get very low in the weeks leading up to my period. In the past I would feel very low & would struggle to get out of bed or start my day. There is no specific trigger for the low mood and is most likely a result of peaks in hormone levels which can have a negative impact on mental health.
I have found there isn’t really a specific solution to this unfortunately. There is always the option to start or increase medication such as anti-depressants, however this was not something I wanted to do. My best advice is to remember that the low mood is due to hormonal changes and is just a result of your body trying to adjust. This helps me to put things into perspective a little more and to not be too hard on myself.
It can also help to let people around you know what’s going on such as friends & family so that they are aware of the situation and can support you when you need.
Increased Anxiety 💜
My anxiety levels sky rocket during PMS and I sometimes find it difficult to go outside, meet up with friends and even go into uni. There is nothing that I am specifically anxious about, however I feel particularly nervous and uncomfortable being around other people.
Again, there is no specific solution which will work for everyone, however, I have found that taking things slowly and not pushing myself too hard is very helpful. If I am feeling too anxious to go into uni, I will email my tutors and will watch lectures from home which makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I also try to speak to my friends and family more over text or phonecall so that I don’t feel too alone.
My main point is don’t be too hard on yourself or expect too much of yourself. PMS can be a very distressing time for hundreds of women so remember that you are not alone.
Low body/self confidence 💜
I felt that this symptom needed it’s own section as my body confidence decreases dramatically during PMS and I think that many women experience the same thing. I feel very bloated and lethargic which can make me feel uncomfortable in my body and I avoid getting dressed up or going out. My skin also gets very oily during PMS and my spots and acne scars become more prominent which really reduces my confidence.
I try to remember that these symptoms are temporary and remind myself that they will be gone in a week or so. Also, these are not necessarily bad things and everybody experiences them at some point in there life! I find that effervescent vitamin C can really help to boost my energy and make me feel less sleepy, and going for short walks in the fresh air really wakes me up. Try to eat more fruit and veg during this time and perhaps reduce portion sizes to help with that bloated feeling, and drink plenty of water to help with oily skin!
Irritable Mood 💜
I tend to get a lot more irritable during PMS and I can be quite short tempered and snappy. Small things will also stress me out a lot more than usual and I tend to get snappy without realising.
There isn’t really a specific way to ‘fix’ feeling irritable however it can be useful to remind yourself that this is due to the changes in your hormones. You may also want to tell you partner that this is affecting your mood so that they can understand why it may be a little more temperamental. Take it easy and try to avoid stressful situations as much as you can and try your best to be respectful of those around you and pay attention to how you are acting towards them – remember that they are not the cause of your irritability!
Unpredictable emotional reactions 💜
Not only do I get very irritable during PMS, but I also get very emotional, usually for no apparent reason, so I really am a joy to be around 😉 This is a symptom that most women will be able to relate to and is probably one of the more common symptoms of PMS. These unpredictable emotional reactions (such as crying because there is too much washing up) can be a lot more severe when suffering from mental health conditions and sometimes can be uncontrollable.
As always, I recommend to keep reminding yourself that this is due to hormonal changes and that you are not being completely irrational, and to tell those around you such as partners or family that you may be a little more sensitive. More importantly, take a pack of tissues everywhere you go in case something something triggers the waterworks. Honestly, there isn’t a set solution for this symptom, and I don’t really think there should be! It’s good to cry and to release your emotions, even if it’s when watching the X Factor auditions. If you do feel irrationally emotional however, do talk to your GP and see if they can offer any guidance
I hope that this post has helped those experiencing more severe symptoms of PMS due to mental health, and has shone a light on PMS in general, which is not really talked about too often. As always, if you are experiencing very severe symptoms or are worried about your experiences of PMS visit your GP or sexual health nurse and they will be able to advise you further.