Each month, millions of women must contend with the annoying symptoms that accompany premenstrual syndrome. The list of symptoms varies from woman to woman, with bloating, irritability, anxiety and mood swings being among the most common.
As bad as these symptoms are, depression is perhaps the worst. The good news is that this unwanted PMS symptom usually disappears right before menstruation starts.
Nevertheless, why does depression seem to be an unwanted partner to premenstrual syndrome? Here are a few reasons.
- Your happy hormone is too low.
Sometimes called the “happy hormone”, serotonin is in essence, responsible for maintaining a healthy mood. Depression can be the result of low or depleted serotonin levels.
That’s why doctors prescribe medication such as Prozac to enhance mood in women suffering from PMS.
Simply prescribing Prozac or other anti-depressants may only lessen the depression and will not treat the underlying cause, which in most cases is estrogen dominance.
- Too much estrogen invites depression.
Excess estrogen has a lot to do with PMS and depression. When the body’s estrogen levels are too high, endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) decrease.
Since women have low endorphin levels during PMS anyway, it is not surprising that one of the main symptoms of PMS is you guessed it, depression.
Here are a few ways to combat excessive estrogen levels.
- Avoid xenoestrogens, which are chemicals that mimic the body’s natural estrogen.
- Drink apple cider vinegar on a daily basis because it helps detox the liver, which in turn removes excess hormones from the body.
- Fight premenstrual depression with vitamin B6.
Taking a daily multi-vitamin is essential to fighting PMS. Vitamin B6 provides a myriad of benefits during that wonderful time of the month.
For instance, it helps balance hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone.
In addition, vitamin B6 plays a role in synthesizing neurotransmitters in the brain that control behavior and mood.
A daily amount of 50-100 milligrams should be sufficient. However, be sure to consult a Naturopathic doctor to get advice on exact dosage.
- Be sure to take Vitamin B6 with magnesium to provide proper absorption.
- The best bioavailable form of Vitamin B6 is pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
- Look for a vitamin brand, which does not contain binders or fillers.
- Estrogen replacement therapy and birth control pills can lessen vitamin B6 absorption.
- Stress exacerbates PMS depression
For women battling depression and PMS, stress will make things worse. When the body is stressed, the hormone cortisol is released.
If stress levels remain elevated, the adrenals release even more cortisol. Then the body’s ability to effectively use the amino acid called tryptophan to make “the happy hormone” serotonin is depleted.
It is truly a vicious cycle.
Stress is unfortunately one of those things that can’t be avoided. However, here are a few suggestions on how to manage it.
- Get your Zen on.
The ancient, eastern technique of meditation strengthens focus, concentration, and memory. Focusing on positive thoughts, even for as little as 10-20 minutes a day will significantly reduce stress, contributing to feelings of peace and relaxation.
- Get moving!
Besides meditation, exercise is another great stress reducer. However, many fail to start an exercise routine because doing so seems daunting or time consuming.
The solution is simple. Do any exercise that will maintain interest for at least 20 minutes. It doesn’t matter if is walking, jogging, yoga or bike riding. The point is to get the heart pumping and release mood-lifting, pain fighting endorphins at least three times a week.
- Magnesium, the super mineral.
This mineral is so essential to life that the heart cannot beat without it. Magnesium offers many benefits, one being a calming effect on PMS symptoms.
Try 300mg in the morning (especially if you have morning anxiety) and 300mg in the evening to help you sleep.
Magnesium can have a loosening effect on the bowels. Some people may be more sensitive to it than others. Start by taking about 300mg to see how it’s tolerated, then increase gradually.
- Avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
These substances can have an energizing effect on the brain. Nevertheless, they can also contribute to increased cortisol levels and lower serotonin levels.
- Herbs, Herbs, and more Herbs
These herbs are a good alternative to drugs and over the counter pain relievers. Seek the help of a trusted Naturopathic doctor before taking any herb to ensure proper dosage.
- Agnus Castus or Vitex Agnus Castus
This herb is a great female hormonal balancer. In fact, in a double-blinded placebo controlled study, the British Medical Journal described Vitex as being just as effective as anti-depressants. Therefore, that makes it a great herb for combating PMS related depression.
- Black Cohosh or Cimicifuga Racemosa
Black Cohosh is effective in treating any anxiety and tension related to PMS. Women suffering from headaches during PMS should also consider instituting black cohosh into their daily regimen.
- Milk Thistle or Silymarin Marianum
Milk Thistle cleanses the liver so it can effectively eliminate excess hormones and toxins. Diabetics should get a physician or Naturopathic practitioner’s advice before using this herb.
While depression and PMS can be an overwhelming duo, they’re not impossible to overcome. Lifestyle changes can go a long way to improving PMS and relieving signs of depression during that time of the month.