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?
This is something that would be really awesome to get your healthcare team to collaborate with you on. Discuss medications and any lifestyle adjustments with your primary care provider (PCP); have your PCP do a full bloodwork up to check vitamin levels and thyroid functioning; have your OBGYN or PCP check your hormone levels and make any necessary adjustments or referrals to other providers to help support correcting any hormonal imbalances (possibly an endocrinologist); consult with a registered dietician to see if there's any dietary adjustments you can make to better regulate your hormones and mood. Listen to what your body needs as your cycle changes throughout the month!
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Have you ruled out anything medical? Having a balanced life takes some time and commitment. Sounds like you're ready, but you need someone to help guide you. I would find someone you connect with here. Besides that, check out this app, Brainwaves if you have an iPhone, if not, there's a brainwaves app on the android that helps with your internal brain frequencies to help you to feel better. There are 35 Binaural programs to choose from (iPhone app). The other thing is to create a new routine, incorporating meditation.
A good program to follow is NEW START (Nutrition (What are you eating, is it benefiting you?), Exercise (Even a 30 minute Brisk walk is helpful), Water (Are you drinking half your body weight in ounces?), Sunlight (If it's still scarce, look for some Vitamin D to supplement), Temperance (Do you need Mental Health support, like working with a Therapist or Counselor?), Air (Are you getting fresh air in your lungs?), Rest (Are you getting restful sleep?), and Trust (which means Trusting in something bigger that you)). This is a daily thing to do. Hopefully, this helps!
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That's some tough stuff to be dealing with.
Have you ever tracked those highs and lows? I often have clients graph out those changes to see what kind of patterns show up. You obviously are very insightful already and maybe having a visual of what you know can help you prepare for some of those lows.
Another curiosity I have is if you have seen your primary provider about what your body is going through. It's hard to give individualized recommendations without knowing more about your symptoms, but reaching out to your doctor could be a way to advocate for yourself. Do you ever feel manic when you have a lot of energy? How long do the "highs" last? Do your highs interfere with sleep? And what impact do your lows have on your functioning? Sometimes I have clients get checked out by a doctor to rule out physical issues that could be underlying the intensity of their symptoms. PMS definitely fits in this category, but it's always possible there's some other imbalance (e.g., lack of certain vitamins, thyroid dysfunction, etc.). Your doctor could even help collaborate with you to find some methods to deal with the depression/PMS.
With the research we have on hormones and their impact on the body, it's pretty crystal clear that exercise has a huge benefit across all levels of emotional dysregulation. It has immediate positive impacts in the brain and body, and keeps the body running efficiently. Same with sleep--it's one of our most underrated functions. If you think of it like a house, your foundation represents those basic functions. If your foundation is shaky, it's going to be tough to support the rest of the house. Exercise is hard to push through, but it's really just those first 10-15 minutes that feel the worst. And you don't have to start somewhere super intense--even walking is wonderful for the body.
Hope this helps a bit!
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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!
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Depression and PMS symptoms can be so hard to navigate ! Looking at this from a holistic standpoint can help you understand why you get these mood swings and what to do to balance yourself emotionally during this time.
As a woman, we experience peaks and dips during our hormonal cycles and right before menstruation, we tend to feel not ourselves and down. The bloating and extreme cravings do not help either.
Making sure your schedule is light and you have things to assist you can be so helpful. Different essential oils like lavender may calm you down, or orange which can uplift your mood. Homeopathy can be effective and gentle during this time as well. Birth control is known to help reduce the extreme spikes in hormones and can reduce your emotional and physical pain. Perhaps even psychiatric medication like an SSRI can help . If you are interested in going down the medication route, be sure to ask the doctor about potential side effects and risks .
Reducing your processed sugar intake may help a lot as well. Exercising, spending time outside, practicing stress management and avoiding caffeine and alcohol can all be useful as well.
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You may already be living a balanced life because you are aware of your ups and downs due to hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle.
As much as posible, schedule activities around your expected mood swings. This way you'll avoid feeling even more tired from a busy scheduled during a low energy time in the month.
The hormonal cycle is normal.
Opinions vary as to taking natural, homeopathic supplements or Pharma drugs which will influence your cycle and make your mood more even.
There are side effects to at least the Pharma drugs, which is a consideration as to the value of taking them.
Reflect on which is your style of living and what will make you feel successful in handling this problem.
Sticking to a system which mirrors the type of person you are, means more than any one particular answer anyone gives you.
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