"You need to help me before I kill my husband." I get this a lot.
It's not normal. But boy is it common. Mood swings, irritability, anger, irrational reactions to things. You are not alone.
Heightened anxiety or mood swings that occur a week before or during your period is all to do with progesterone.
Progesterone is your friend. It's the happy hormone that makes us feel chilled out, optimistic and in love. It's just an all round great hormone. Progesterone rises in the second half of your cycle, the luteal phase, and is kick started just after you ovulate.
If you aren't ovulating or if your progesterone is too low then this is when anxiety can set in just before your period and can continue on into your period time as well. Fun.
Woman who do not ovulate regularly (PCOS, perimenopause, menopause, postpartum, Post Hormonal Birth Control (PHBCS) etc) commonly have heightened anxiety levels due to this referring deficiency in progesterone.
So what's the solution?
Rebalance hormone levels. I use herbal medicine to do this very effectively. The goal being to optimise ovulation and support healthy progesterone levels. Vitex is my go-to herb, as it increases progesterone levels quickly- but it isn't suitable for everyone so always see your Naturopath before taking herbal medicine.
B Vitamins. Under stress we burn through B Vitamins much faster than we do when we are in a calm state as we are using them to replace neurotransmitters as fast as we can. B vitamin deficiencies can lead to poor neurotransmitter production, leading to more anxiety.
For example, B6 is particularly important when we are talking about anxiety and hormones as B6 is used to make GABA, a neurotransmitter used by the brain to calm our moods. GABA receptors are switched on by progesterone so you can see how this vicious cycle of monthly anxiety may have started. Taking a good quality B complex can help adjust any nutritional deficiencies and resolve this impact.
And what if you're on the pill?
Firstly, the pill also depletes a LOT of key nutrients, particularly B vitamins so I always encourage woman on the pill to take a good quality B complex to make up for that.
It's also really important to mention that there is no progesterone in the pill. The pill contains progestin which is synthetic and doesn't have the same chilled out, in love affects to your mind and body as the real stuff does. This means that it will be contributing to a progesterone deficiency. However, there is still lots we can do to combat this if you want to remain on the pill so please don't suffer in silence if this is you.