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How Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Causes Anxiety

Denise Griswold, MSc, LCAS
How Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Causes Anxiety

Anxiety is a unique condition—generally it's formed through years of experiences and genetics, and while there can occasionally be some external or physical health factors, anxiety is most often caused by faulty thought processes.

But what makes anxiety interesting is that it can also be caused by changes to the body's stasis, or equilibrium. Even though people think of anxiety in terms of anxious thoughts, these anxious thoughts can be affected by the health of your body. That's why anxiety - including worries and fears - can be caused or elevated by premenstrual syndrome, or PMS.

Fluctuating Hormones Cause Anxiety

PMS is often blamed for emotional changes, sometimes unfairly. But there is no denying that fluctuating hormones affect anxiety. It's a well-known, established medical fact.

Causes of PMS Anxiety

Both premenstrual syndrome and anxiety are incredibly complex. That's why while many of the causes of anxiety from PMS are known, there are issues at play that may not be accounted for or completely understood. What may cause anxiety in one woman may not cause anxiety in another, or may cause anxiety in a completely different way.

But there are potential links that are known. The following are the most likely causes of PMS anxiety:

In addition, simple hormone imbalance is known to lead to anxiety for reasons that are not always clear. Hormones play a direct role in the way your body produces and responds to the neurotransmitters that control stress and anxiety, so it's likely that when these hormones have lost their balance, anxiety and stress are the result.

Combined with the sheer fear of emotional dysregulation, the over-sensitivity that some women experience towards their body, and the feeling of being overwhelmed that often accompanies PMS episodes, it's no wonder that anxiety is a common experience for women who are menstruating.

How to Overcome PMS Anxiety

Overcoming PMS anxiety is both simple and challenging. It's simple, because there are several techniques that should at least reduce your anxiety overall. But it's challenging, because your menstrual cycle is something you cannot control and varies in intensity from month to month.

One option to consider is any specific PMS treatments. Some of the most common solutions for PMS itself include:

Still, it's important to remember that most theorize that PMS doesn't "cause" anxiety in a clear-cut cause/effect sense. Rather, it makes the anxiety you already experience worse. In addition, even though anxiety caused by PMS is the result of physical changes, you can often treat premenstrual anxiety through the same behavioral principles that people use to treat anxiety not caused by premenstrual symptoms. The coping mechanisms are the same, and often overlap.

Some examples of how to cope with PMS anxiety include:

Any and all anxiety treatments may also reduce your stress and improve overall wellness. If you control the way anxiety and stress affect you when you don't have PMS symptoms, then you should experience fewer anxiety symptoms during before your period.

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