Stress - PMS: Rude mood or metal illness | Women's Health & Fitness


Do some women use their PMS time of month as a window to express negative emotions? Yes, according to professor of women’s health psychology at the University of Western Sydney Jane Ussher, who caused great controversy when she recently discussed this on Australian website The Conversation. “For three weeks of the month, some women silence their irritation and unhappiness, conforming to societal expectations of the ‘good woman’,” says Ussher. “Premenstrually, this self-silencing is broken, but their expression of negative thoughts and feelings is invariably dismissed as PMS.”

To break this cycle and reduce PMS distress, Ussher believes it would help women to learn to express their feelings throughout the month and also prioritise their own self-care instead of always focusing on the needs of their family first. Support from partners is also pivotal. “Women in lesbian relationships, who report partner empathy, also find premenstrual change less distressing, and are better able to cope,” Ussher points out.

Undeniably, stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol can affect everything from sleep and digestion to thinking and mood. So a stressful job or juggling too many responsibilities can also exacerbate symptoms of PMS. That’s good reason to adopt some extra ‘stay calm’ strategies from the middle of your cycle until menstruation. They may include daily progressive relaxation (tensing and relaxing muscles from head to toe) or writing a daily journal. Daily exercise is also critical for stabilising hormones, and debriefing about feelings over a coffee with a close friend can help women feel better and supported. Meditation can also help – studies show that it helps activate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with calmer emotions and improved impulse control.