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    PMS mood swings: Why they happen and how to manage them

    Updated 22 March 2023 |
    Published 09 November 2018
    Fact Checked
    Dr. Cynthia DeTata
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Cynthia DeTata, Clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, California, US
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    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Your mood is up one minute, then down the next. Your period must be due.  But what actually causes PMS mood swings, and is there anything you can do to manage them?

    For some of us, monthly periods are a breeze. But for others, premenstrual syndrome (which most of us know as PMS) is a total drag. It’s often a sign your period is coming, and it can show up in many different ways. PMS symptoms range from physical symptoms, such as bloating and cramps, to emotional symptoms, like PMS mood swings, which many people find take the biggest toll on their well-being. 

    Ever noticed yourself sobbing at a TV commercial one minute and fighting the urge to launch your phone across the room the next? Yup, you’re probably one of the three in four women who experiences PMS-related symptoms. 

    For most people, these are mild, but that’s not to say they don’t cause disruption. Mood swings during PMS can cause “fatigue and depression” before a period for some, explains obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Barbara Levy, while it can lead others to “become less patient and more intolerant to small irritations.” It’s also typical to feel sadness, anger, hopelessness, loneliness, overwhelm, guilt, or restlessness as part of PMS — not fun for you or the people around you.

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    What causes PMS mood swings?

    As with most menstrual-related conditions, you can probably guess what’s at the heart of your changing temperament: hormonal fluctuations. “Mood swings are common whenever hormones change,” says Dr. Levy. “It turns out that hormones have an effect on our brain chemistry, increasing some neurotransmitters and decreasing others.” That’s why emotional symptoms like these PMS mood swings always seem to hit around the same point in your cycle. The sudden dip in hormones that happens before your period can cause you to be irritable for seemingly no reason at all. 

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