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Mental health and hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle

Your body is a complex machine, and hormones are the chemical messengers that keep this machine running smoothly. 

Mental health and hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle

Your body is a complex machine, and hormones are the chemical messengers that keep this machine running smoothly. 

Your hormones
Hormones regulate virtually all bodily functions, from your appetite and energy levels to your mood and mental well-being. However, hormonal imbalances can throw this finely-tuned system off, leading to a variety of mental health issues.

Menstrual cycle & hormones
As a woman, you experience a complex interplay of hormones during each menstrual cycle. Two hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, play a significant role. In the first half of your cycle, estrogen levels rise to prepare your body for ovulation. After ovulation, progesterone levels rise to prepare your body for a potential pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, both hormone levels drop, leading to menstruation.

The menstrual cycle and mood
These hormonal fluctuations can impact your brain chemistry and influence your mood. Estrogen, for instance, is linked to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. As your estrogen levels rise and fall, so can your mood. This is why you might notice mood changes or emotional sensitivity at certain points in your cycle.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
About a week or two before your period starts, you might experience a group of symptoms collectively known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These can include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. PMS is likely connected to the drop in estrogen and progesterone levels at the end of your cycle.

A more severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), affects about 5% of women of reproductive age. Symptoms of PMDD are so severe that they significantly interfere with a woman’s daily activities and relationships. These can include extreme mood swings, depression, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and even suicidal thoughts.

Risk factors
There are risk factors that can make some women more susceptible to experiencing mental health issues related to hormonal changes. These can include:

These risk factors do not guarantee that someone will experience mental health issues due to hormonal changes, but they can increase the likelihood. It’s important for any woman experiencing mental health concerns to seek help from a healthcare provider.

Coping with hormonal changes
Understanding the link between your menstrual cycle and mental health can help you manage their impact. Here are some strategies:

Your menstrual cycle involves a complex dance of hormones that can have a profound impact on your mental health. However, understanding these connections can help you navigate these challenges.

If you’re struggling, remember that you’re not alone and there are resources available to help. Please consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your mental health.

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