Q – I suffer badly with mood swings prior to my period. It’s as if I become someone else, someone who is intolerant and short tempered. My partner says he thinks about moving out for a week every month because it’s like he’s living with a stranger. Please help.
A – The hormonal changes that occur between ovulation and the next menstrual period can cause a variety of psychological and physical symptoms. Every woman experiences these to a greater or lesser degree.
There are many natural ways to self-treat that can help with the symptoms of pre-menstrual tension and the following are likely to help with some of the distressing emotional swings, although if the symptoms persist after a couple of months of trying the remedies then a qualified practitioner should be consulted.
A combination of the herbal tinctures of chaste berry, motherwort, passiflora and vervain should be taken three times a day.Your local Neal’s Yard Remedies shop can mix this up for you. These will help balance the hormones and relieve stress and irritability.
In addition, try taking 50mg of vitamin B6 and 200mg of magnesium daily both of which have been shown to have a positive effect on mood and behaviour prior to the period. Remember that these are best taken alongside a good quality multivitamins so that you know you are getting the full spectrum of nutritional co-factors necessary.
The essential oils of clary sage, geranium and rose will also help to balance the hormones and level out mood swings. Add to a vegetable oil base and use a massage oil and bath oil. If you feel achy or tense as your period approaches, perhaps this is a good time to schedule a regular aromatherapy massage as a therapeutic treat.
Think about your diet
If you are serious about evening out your moods, it pays to be ruthless about cutting foods out of your diet that make things worse.
A high fat diet an make PMS symptoms worse, liberal intake of salt may also contribute to bloating and water retention. Too much caffeine can also make breast tenderness more pronounced. These things are important because after all, who can be at their emotional best when they are feeling physically below par?
Indulging in sweet treats and caffeine drinks to boost energy and mood can also lead to substantial mood swings, usually a high immediately after eating or drinking, followed by increasingly deep lows as the body’s insulin levels drop.
Instead, up your intake of fibre and fresh vegetables and fruit and slow release carbohydrates. It sounds like such a simple solution that many women don’t trust it will work. But getting your diet under control can substantially influence your emotional well-being, not just around your periods but throughout the entire month.
Dr Marylin Glenville, who has spent her professional life helping women maintain good health naturally throughout their reproductive lives, produces a very useful free-ebook, The Foundation of Health, which may be of help. See here for details.
Also check out our feature Foods to Boost Your Moods.
Don’t be afraid to seek help
If symptoms are really bad then maybe it’s time to talk to someone. Turning to a counsellor or psychotherapist is not an admission of defeat or of being ‘crazy’. Good counselling or psychotherapy support can help build emotional resilience, and a clearer understanding of what triggers your mood swings and provide you with skills that help you cope.
More than likely it will be a combination of diet and lifestyle that will help restore balance (and peace!) in your life.
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