How do depression and PMS symptoms contribute to one another and what can I do about it?

I struggle with depression as well as pretty intense mood swings throughout the month. I experience highs where I feel amazing and energetic and then lows where I lack focus, energy, and generally have a more dark outlook on my life. How can I live a more balanced life?

Pamela Suraci
Pamela Suraci
Build on your strengths, grow in your challenge areas and improve your life!

Are you certain your highs and lows are directly related to your cycle?  It's possible that there are at least some contributing factors, even if they are  as a result of hormonal fluctuations.

For example, at the start of your period, do you have that "I feel great" feeling, or are you tired and down?  Mid-cycle (assuming your periods are regular), do you find yourself napping or ready to run a race?  Either way, how you feel may be leading you to behaviors that contribute to your changes in energy and optimism. 

Let's say that the few days before your period, you feel cranky, bloated and want salty food.  Your natural inclination might be to isolate, stay inside and eat chips.  The next day, you feel even more tired, cranky and bloated.  It STARTS with a hormonal symptom, but what you do with that can change how you  end up feeling.  So if you notice feeling cranky, bloated and craving salt, what if you pull up a restorative yoga video online, spend an hour being restful and centered in your body and have a good meal with a healthy balance of fats, proteins and carbs, with fresh veggies and fruits before you turn in early to give your body the rest it is asking for ?  That sets you up to feel MUCH better!

And those "on top of the world days" - who doesn't love them??  But even those days, be mindful of how you are treating yourself.  Exercise for sure, but don't do twice the workout you normally would just because you can!  You might feel super energy and skip meals which sets you up for poor sleep and feeling crummy after a day or two.

All that aside, if you have a couple rough days before your period, pay attention to what is bugging you.  Christiane Northrup, MD, likens our menstrual cycle to the tide.  When the tide is out (just before your period), you see all the garbage cluttering up your ocean floor, but you don't have the energy to address it, so there it stays, bugging you.  At the height of physical and emotional energy (usually mid-cycle/ovulation), the tide is back in and you don't see all that annoying stuff you saw before.  Since you have good energy at this time, take advantage of it by doing some "clean up" on the things you saw there when you felt crummy.  Maybe it's that conversation you have been putting  off with your partner, or having the long-delayed closet clean out, or searching for a job that feels/pays/fits you better.  Whatever it is, those "PMS blues" may hold important messages for you.

If taking good care of yourself, staying tuned in to your needs and keeping an eye on the "tides" don't help, then  see your doctor.  Something else may be going on - our hormones all work together like a symphony - it only takes one to be out of tune to throw the whole thing off!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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