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Emotions and Mood

When we talk about emotions and mood this includes anxiety, worry and irritability. Changes in sex hormones can affect your mood both positively (oestrogen can be a happy hormone) and negatively (decline in hormones can affect how you feel), along with the balance of both oestrogen and progesterone which can help to feel confident, motivated, focussed, calm…

What phase of your menstrual cycle do you experience different emotions and mood?

Emotions and mood change across the menstrual cycle, related to then fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone.

You may experience increase feelings of happiness, confidence and motivation just after your period in the follicular phase.

Whereas in the late luteal phase it is common to experience increased anxiety, worry and irritability along with more sensitive with anger, crying.

Throughout the cycle there may be changes in how focussed you feel (with an increase in progesterone) or a sense of calm when progesterone and estrogen are elevated at the start of the luteal phase.

Early Follicular Phase

Causes of changes in emotion and mood during your menstrual cycle

Hormones like estrogen and progesterone can mess with how your brain works, which can affect how you think and feel.

These hormones can get into your brain easily because they’re like VIPs that can pass through the brain’s security system.

In your brain, there are special spots called receptors that these hormones attach to. Think of them like keyholes, and the hormones are the keys. Estrogen has its own receptors called ER Alpha & ER Beta, while progesterone has receptors called PRA & PRB.

These receptors are found in areas of your brain that handle stuff like thinking, feeling emotions, and processing what’s happening around you.

So, when these hormones start doing their thing in your brain, they can affect how well you think, how you handle emotions, and how you make sense of the world. It’s like they’re flipping switches in your brain, changing how it works.

There are also interactions with serotonin neurotransmitter system, big words but this is of relevance for emotional processing and mood because positive emotions are linked to a peak in estrogen and increase serotonin vs post ovulation and late luteal where declines in estrogen are linked to low serotonin levels.

How to manage emotion and mood

  • Use the Wheel of Emotions (by David Hodder) or Mood chart POMS to help track your mood for 3 cycles to help identify those related to changes in hormones as there are so many factors that can affect your emotions and mood, food, sleep, stress to name a few. Think about some strategies to include or adjust in your lifestyle to try and improve some of these factors.
  • Food for mood provides some good ideas for food to help improve your mood
  • Tryptophan is the protein involved in serotonin production and is found in foods such as chicken, dairy and nuts.
    Carbohydrate is required for these foods to be effective so pair them up with a carb for a delicious snack. Snack examples: milky drinks, dried fruit and nuts, chicken sandwich. 
  • Complete daily activity/exercise for at least 30mins. Even better if you try and get outside to do it.
  • Think about sleep hygiene strategies to improve your sleep quality, even if the amount of sleep cannot be increased there are ways to improve your sleep quality.
  • Stress relief, this might include exercise, meditation/yoga, reading a book, socialising or having a hot bath. Stress management varies between individuals and at different times.
  • Time management – be proactive with planning to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Oetrogen has a positive energy effect in the follicular phase, take note…do not agree or commit to too many things and then get super stressed in the luteal phase.

To effectively implement most of these strategies, it might be useful to map out your week to ensure you include time for doing things that you enjoy whilst juggling your other commitments. This will also give you perspective as to whether you are able to take on anymore. 

If you are finding your mood is impacting you, you can also reach out for support. Speak to your GP surgery to find out what local support is available for you.

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