AnxietyAnxiety Before Period: Understanding Pre-Menstrual Emotional Changes

Anxiety Before Period: Understanding Pre-Menstrual Emotional Changes

Many women experience increased anxiety before their period due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. This anxiety is linked to fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone, which affect mood and emotions. In addition, serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter, is disrupted by these hormonal changes, potentially causing mood swings and anxiety. This premenstrual anxiety may be worse in people with pre-existing anxiety disorders.

Lifestyle changes such as exercise, good sleep and relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can help reduce premenstrual anxiety. Eating a balanced diet can also help with mood stability and mental wellbeing. In some cases, however, these measures may not be enough and medical treatment may be needed, discussed with a healthcare professional.

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal changes before a period can lead to increased anxiety.
  • A balanced lifestyle can reduce premenstrual anxiety symptoms.
  • Professional help may be needed to manage severe anxiety.

Understanding Anxiety Before Period

Many women experience increased anxiety and other emotional disturbances as part of their menstrual cycle. This typically occurs during the luteal phase, the period before menstruation.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur before a woman’s period begins, often including mood swings, tension, nervousness and irritability. The changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, particularly the decrease in oestrogen and progesterone, play an important role in the manifestation of these symptoms. Physical symptoms can include bloating and headaches, while emotional symptoms can range from mild irritability to significant anxiety before your period.

It’s estimated that the majority of menstruating women experience some form of PMS symptoms. For more information on managing symptoms, see Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a more severe form of PMS that affects a smaller percentage of women. Symptoms of PMDD include acute depression, feelings of hopelessness, or even anger and anxiety, which can significantly interfere with daily life. These emotional states are more intense and can seriously affect relationships and performance at work or school.

The exact causes are not fully understood, but are linked to hormonal changes and serotonin levels. Treatment can range from lifestyle changes to medication, and proper management may require medical intervention. For those experiencing severe irritability, depression or anxiety, understanding premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is the first step to finding relief.

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Managing Anxiety Through Lifestyle And Home Remedies

There are a number of lifestyle and home remedies that can help you manage anxiety before your period. The most important lifestyle changes focus on reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Exercise: Regular physical activity such as walking, jogging or swimming can help reduce stress and improve mood by releasing endorphins. Aim for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Yoga and meditation: Incorporating yoga can help maintain a calm mind. Meditation and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, can also reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Sleep: Prioritising sleep is crucial. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to help the body cope with stress.

Diet And Substance Intake

  • Dietary changes: Eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins can help stabilise blood sugar levels and mood.
  • Caffeine and alcohol: Reduce intake as they can worsen anxiety symptoms.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated can help prevent irritability.

Breathing exercises: Practice deep breathing techniques to induce a state of relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Activities: Engaging in hobbies or activities that distract from anxiety can be beneficial. Art, reading or music can be calming.

Stress reduction: Organising strategies, such as making lists or schedules, can help manage stress by making daily tasks more manageable.

All of these practices promote relaxation and rest, and can be tailored to individual needs and preferences to help manage premenstrual anxiety effectively.

Medical Treatments For Anxiety Before Period

Medical Treatments for Anxiety before Period

Anxiety before your period, often experienced as part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), can be treated with different medical treatments. Treatment options include both medication and therapy.


  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Medications such as sertraline and fluoxetine have been shown to reduce anxiety by regulating serotonin levels.
  • Hormonal birth control: Birth control pills can stabilise hormonal fluctuations and may reduce anxiety symptoms.
  • Antidepressants: These medications may provide relief for more severe cases of premenstrual anxiety.

Dietary supplements:

  • Calcium: Research suggests that calcium levels may influence PMS symptoms, including anxiety.
  • Vitamins: Vitamin B6 and vitamin E are sometimes recommended for PMS symptoms.


  • Psychotherapy may be beneficial alongside medication to help patients develop coping mechanisms for anxiety.

Healthcare professionals may consider the impact of hormone production on anxiety symptoms before a period by assessing levels of hormones such as oestradiol. It’s important for individuals to talk to their healthcare providers to discuss the most appropriate treatment for their specific needs. These approaches may be used alone or in combination, depending on the healthcare provider’s assessment.

Preventing Anxiety Before Period

Exercise and stress management play an important role in managing premenstrual anxiety. Regular physical activity, whether it’s yoga, jogging or team sports, helps release endorphins, improve mood and reduce stress.

Eating a balanced diet, rich in whole foods and low in processed sugars, helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels and can reduce mood swings. Prioritising sleep is also important, as lack of rest can exacerbate anxiety. Establishing a consistent sleep routine promotes better rest and mood regulation.

Incorporating relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation into your daily routine promotes a calm mind and a more resilient stress response. Lifestyle changes, including reducing caffeine intake, can also be beneficial. Caffeine can cause anxiety and worsen premenstrual symptoms.

Maintaining a consistent routine supports hormonal balance and psychological well-being. Tracking your cycle can help you anticipate and prepare for changes in mood or anxiety levels. By recognising patterns, you can implement preventative strategies before symptoms manifest.

Developing healthy habits – such as prioritising your needs and making time for relaxation – supports overall mental health. These lifestyle changes are fundamental to preventing anxiety before the menstrual cycle begins.

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When To Seek Professional Help

It is important to distinguish between typical premenstrual anxiety and symptoms that indicate the need for intervention by a healthcare professional. A doctor or mental health professional should be consulted if emotional symptoms seriously interfere with daily life or if there is an inability to cope effectively with stressors.

Symptoms that warrant professional assessment include persistent and excessive worry that interferes with work, relationships or social activities, especially if this pattern repeats monthly and coincides with the menstrual cycle. Therapy may be recommended for those who find that their quality of life is affected by premenstrual mood changes.

Talk to a professional if you notice this:

  • Panic attacks that occur before menstruation
  • Generalised anxiety that seems to be related to the menstrual cycle
  • A significant impact on life due to anxiety disorders

A diagnosis may be needed to rule out other conditions, and a tailored treatment plan may include medication or cognitive behavioural therapy, as supported by some studies of premenstrual mood disorders. A doctor may also suggest lifestyle changes or other therapeutic strategies to help manage symptoms. Do not hesitate to seek professional help for persistent emotional distress, as early intervention may prevent further deterioration in mental health and overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Addressing common concerns about anxiety before your period can help you manage your symptoms effectively. Here are some key questions

How can PMS-related anxiety be effectively managed?

A number of strategies can help manage anxiety caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These include lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, a balanced diet and adequate sleep. In addition, stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy have been shown to be beneficial. Patients should consult a healthcare professional for personalised recommendations.

What strategies help reduce severe anxiety symptoms during menstruation?

For severe anxiety symptoms during menstruation, healthcare providers may suggest pharmacological treatments such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. Coping strategies such as relaxation exercises, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and seeking support through therapy can also help reduce symptoms.

Can PCOS contribute to increased anxiety before menstruation?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with hormonal imbalances that can increase the risk of premenstrual anxiety. Women with PCOS may experience fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone, which can increase premenstrual anxiety.

Is there a link between anxiety levels and different phases of the menstrual cycle, such as ovulation?

Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle, including during ovulation, can affect anxiety levels. Fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone can affect the neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood.

How does PMDD differ from PMS in terms of anxiety symptoms?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS characterised by significant mood disturbance. The anxiety symptoms of PMDD tend to be more disabling and can have a significant impact on daily functioning, which distinguishes it from the less intense anxiety associated with PMS.

How does the transition to perimenopause affect pre-menstrual anxiety?

The transition to the menopause can cause fluctuations in hormone levels, which can contribute to increased anxiety before a period. Women may experience increased anxiety symptoms during this time, which may require lifestyle changes or medical intervention to manage effectively.


Pre-operative anxiety, which affects 60-80% of adults and 50-70% of children undergoing surgery, arises from concerns about the operation, the anaesthetic or potential post-operative problems. It is important to address this anxiety as it can lead to more severe postoperative pain and slower recovery. Effective management strategies include counselling and medication. Involving patients in treatment planning and educating them about options such as psychological support or pharmacotherapy is essential.

Healthcare professionals should integrate anxiety-reducing practices into preoperative care. Ultimately, patient education and implementation of anxiety management techniques are key to improving surgical outcomes and helping patients effectively manage preoperative anxiety.


  1. Office on Women’s Health. “Premenstrual Syndrome.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Link.

  2. Office on Women’s Health. “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Link.

  3. American Academy of Family Physicians. “Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.” American Family Physician, Vol. 94, No. 3, 2016. Link.

  4. Steiner, M., Pearlstein, T., Cohen, L. S., Endicott, J., Kornstein, S. G., Roberts, C., … & Yonkers, K. (2014). “Expert Guidelines for the Treatment of Severe PMS, PMDD, and Comorbidities: The Role of SSRIs.” Journal of Women’s Health, 23(1), 2–20. National Center for Biotechnology Information, PMC3877464. Link.

  5. Freeman, E. W., Halbreich, U., Grubb, G. S., Rapkin, A. J., Skouby, S. O., Smith, L., … & Young, E. A. (2019). “An International Society for Premenstrual Disorders (ISPMD) Consensus Statement on the Management of Premenstrual Disorders.” Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 22(3), 279–291. National Center for Biotechnology Information, PMC6526963. Link.

Mark Willson, holding a Ph.D., functions as a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C. His specialized fields encompass addiction, anxiety, depression, as well as sexuality and interpersonal connections. Dr. Willson holds the distinction of being a diplomat for the American Board of Addiction and Anxiety, further serving as a certified counselor and addiction specialist.

Aside from his personal professional endeavors, Dr. Wilson has engaged in roles as an author, journalist, and creator within substantial medical documentary projects.

Isabella Clark, Ph.D., held the position of a professor within Emory University’s School of Medicine, working in the Department of Mental Health and Nutrition Science. Alongside this role, she served as a research associate affiliated with the National Research Center. Dr. Clark’s primary area of research centers on comprehending the mechanisms through which adverse social encounters, encompassing prolonged stress and traumatic exposure, contribute to a spectrum of detrimental mental health consequences and coexisting physical ailments like obesity. Her specific focus lies in unraveling the reasons behind the varying elevated susceptibility to stress-linked disorders between different genders.


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