Periods and mood swings
Whether you suddenly find yourself weepy and emotional during your time of the month, you feel angry and easily-irritated or you are suffering under the weight of stress and anxiety, I'm here to help.
In this two-part blog post, I'll be looking at some steps you can take to balance out your mood swings.
So, let's get started with my first 3 tips:
- Avoid spiking your blood sugar levels
- Talk to your doctor
- Look at your medication.
1. Avoid spiking your blood sugar levels
Your blood sugar levels can have a drastic impact on your mood, as well as other aspects such as your energy levels. Your brain needs glucose in order to function so, if your blood sugar gets too low, your body will product adrenaline in an attempt to pump more glucose to the brain. As we know, when adrenaline circulates in our body, we can feel anxious, jittery and all-round pretty rubbish.
Your blood sugar levels might fall because you aren't eating enough food or you aren't eating regularly enough, as your blood sugar rises when you eat. I find that eating little and often tends to help keep blood sugar stable and avoids it dropping to a level which is going to make you feel anxious and irritable.
On the other hand, a crash in blood sugar levels and subsequent mood swings could be due to eating certain foods too often. Although your blood sugar levels will rise each time you eat, it's important to avoid inducing a sugar high which will inevitably lead to a crash.
So, you should avoid indulging on high-GI foods during your period. Your body breaks down these foods quickly which can cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar levels. High-GI foods include:
- Cakes and biscuits
- Fizzy juice
- White bread
- White rice.
Opt instead for low-GI foods like whole grain bread, brown pasta and brown rice, and snack on fresh fruit and nuts to keep your blood sugars level throughout the day.
2. Talk to your doctor
If you are concerned about changes in mood around the time of your period, it may be worth making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your monthly symptoms.
I often recommend keeping a diary of your symptoms for a month or two in order to determine if your monthly cycle could be responsible. You can take a look at this with your doctor and then discuss your options.
If you can't wait as long as this and your symptoms are getting in the way of every day life (if you have to take time off work or cancel plans) then you should make an appointment with your doctor sooner to determine if you could be suffering from a condition such as PMS.
3. Look at your medication
As I’ve explained, you should talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about mood swings and other period symptoms, and this is especially true if you are taking hormonal contraceptives.
As I’m sure we’re all aware, raging hormones and mood swings often go hand in hand. But things can be complicated even further when you introduce synthetic hormones into the mix. Birth control pills are a prime example of this.
Progesterone-only pills could skew your delicate hormone balance, for example, resulting in low mood and lack of motivation. This is because progesterone acts as a relaxant, so too much can almost make you feel overly-relaxed and your mood can become really low.
On the other hand, the combined pill could also contribute to your changes in mood as a continuous supply of (synthetic) oestrogen can result in the scale being tipped in the opposite direction.
Too much oestrogen relative to progesterone (especially in the few days before your period when levels should be low) can potentially cause mood swings of a more anxious, irritable nature, as you are lacking in the right quantities of progesterone which is supposed to calm you down and help you to relax.
You and your doctor should be able to sit down together and look at other contraceptive options if your current methods aren’t working for you. There are various methods (and various types of pill!) which you can try to see what works best for your body.
Look out for part 2 of this blog post!
Look out for part 2 of this blog which continues on with my advice on periods and mood swings. I’ll be discussing the importance of sleep, how your diet can help and why you should be getting outdoors and exercising.