Being a woman in this day and age has a lot of perks, from different career options, to different sizing options at stores there’s a lot out there that we have a chance at sampling and lot that we’ve already tried, whether it’s almond milk and quinoa for a health kick or to the sudden availability of avocados in the local markets. Things are always getting better. But, of course, one can’t deny that there’s still a lot that needs to be figured out when it comes to women and the solutions they need in everyday life
One such thing is your period. And it’s not just the period per se that we’re talking about, but the fact that your body is on a month-long prep schedule because your body is the birther of the miracle of life. And what happens when your body is on this prep schedule? You have a mix of hormones that keep yo-yo-ing throughout your cycle. Peaking high and falling low with every phase setting off a chain reaction of emotions, moods, words and physical changes.
Mood swings, fatigue, irritability, depression, tiredness, anxiety, reduced cognitive ability, aggression, anger, sleep disorders, and food cravings. We’ve all faced these things from time to time when it comes to our periods, and most fraught are the phases before and after the said period.
If you’ve noticed, a lot of these things are directly linked to your mental health. That’s right, the connection between female hormones and mental health is a strong one, and heavily influenced. This is not to say that it’s a bad thing, but it does make one’s life slightly inconvenient from time to time.
You must be thinking, “How on earth do female hormones affect one’s mental health?”
The simple answer? The phases our body goes through in the process of creating a nice hospitable environment for the egg to fertilize, attach and grow also release different levels of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones affect the neurotransmitters in our brains like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In essence, the hormones affect and influence the signals our brains receive, making us more emotional and affecting our cognition.
Now, you must be wondering how does that happen? And what exactly is cognition?
Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. Now, do you catch our drift? The hormones change the basic functioning of the neurotransmitters, i.e. they can pretty much actually change the chemistry and engineering of that beautiful and interesting organ that’s shaped like a walnut in our heads.
The kicker? This happens for pretty much all your adult life while you’re menstruating and also when you go into menopause. The rapid changes in our estrogen levels end up leading to this triad of depressive disorders that are directly linked to our hormones.
The disorders? PMS and PMDD, i.e Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
While we’re all familiar with PMS, a working definition of which can be characterized as a condition which occurs with distressing physical, emotional and behavioral changes that don’t find their roots in any underlying physical or mental disease. PMDD, on the other hand, is a much more severe and sometimes disabling extension the same.
So don’t let anyone ever again question you about your PMS in a trivial manner. Now you know why certain things happen around that time of the month and how exactly it takes a toll on your mental health. Be the boss lady you are, woman! Because knowledge is power. Check out more details about PMDD here.