Ever noticed a dramatic change in mood in the lead up to your period?
It might be worth tracking your cycle to see if there is any relationship that links your mood symptoms and your menstrual cycle.
A meta-analysis of 32 papers involving 3791 women observed a 13% greater risk of psychiatric admissions in the week or so preceding women getting their period, summing up the findings of a growing body of research which shows that specific phases of the menstrual cycle have been found to be a trigger for mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression in hormone-sensitive women.
The mechanism by which this occurs is of course multi-faceted, but involves the interplay between neuro-steroids (such as oestrogen, progesterone and their metabolites such as allo-pregnenalone) and the influence these have on neuro-transmitters such as serotonin, dopamine GABA and glutamate, that influence how we feel and think .
The menstrual cycle has also been shown to influence addictive behaviours like dysregulated eating, drug & alcohol use as well as OCD tendencies. Research shows that women with PMS & PMDD partake in more addictive behaviours than women without. This is due to cyclic fluctuations of hormones that occur throughout the menstrual cycle can alter reward pathways in the brain including dopaminergic activity.
Knowing your cycle (particularly where you are at in your cycle) can help you understand why you are feeling & behaving the way you are. Additionally, balancing abnormal fluctuations in hormones, and identifying contributing factors that cause the abnormalities, can then assist with stabilising mood and reducing addictive tendencies.