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PMS Irritability

PMS Irritability

by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Dr. Daniel J. Heller Dr. Danie J. Heller

Dr. Heller is a family practitioner who specializes in helping patients with hormonal conditions like PMS & PMDD; diabetes and prediabetes; and other chronic diseases. He is the founder, formulator, and clinical director of PMS Comfort. [more]

 

Ordinarily it doesn't bother you—the way a co-worker asks for favors, the sock left on the back of the couch, the dirty dishes in the sink—but when PMS irritability strikes, little things don't seem so little anymore. Or, to your rational mind they seem minor, but your PMS reaction is out of proportion to the situation. It can be frustrating because your emotions and your words may feel like they are impossible to control, no matter how hard you may try to rein them in.

Eva, a 45-year-old mom and service manager, and a participant in the PMS Study, describes the problem:

"When I'm PMSing, my patience level for my children seems to be just about nil. I ‘go off' almost instantly, when normally I'd be thinking more rationally about what they may have done. Or I'll just instantly jump down their throats. Instead of talking about it, I'm more likely to yell at them."

PMS irritability is real, and it's one of the most commonly misunderstood symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. We know, and you know, that the irritability is not intentional, and not even the "real" you. Most of the women we've met who are looking for natural remedies for PMS irritability seek relief precisely because when PMS takes over, they feel like they lose control and aren't really themselves anymore.

What can you do to resolve premenstrual irritability? In our opinion, the best solution is a holistic prevention program that corrects the underlying hormonal imbalance that causes PMS. By the time you're already feeling irritable, it's very difficult to get things under control.

This brings us to one of the strange things about irritable PMS symptoms: Stress makes PMS worse, and PMS causes more stress and irritability. But this needn't be a vicious cycle for you—you can make positive strides to step out of the stress-and-irritability PMS loop. Remember, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Natural Remedies for PMS Irritability

Exercise (if even just a little bit): Regular exercise is one of the best ways to discharge stress. And the less stress that builds up in your body, the less likely you are to find yourself premenstrually irritable. While a leisurely walk around the block may not be enough exercise to relieve all your stress, it's a fantastic place to start if you're just getting started with an exercise routine. Walking can be a great way to clear your head when stress builds up, and doing it with a friend can allow you to catch up with each other, and support each other in healthy habits. Some women we know like to lace up their walking shoes and get their walk in at the mall—just take the stairs, not the escalator!

Cut out the caffeine: Yes, caffeine can actually make you more irritable! Some people rely on the stimulant effect from coffee (and less so from tea) to get going, but if PMS irritability is a concern, we suggest you consume only the amount of caffeine you need to avoid a withdrawal headache—beyond that it could be making you tense. If you'd like to try going off caffeine altogether, it's a great idea, and the headache generally lasts for only a day. You can also wean yourself off by incrementally replacing the caffeinated portion with more decaf each day. Many people with anxiety, tension, stress, and irritability find their symptoms are much more manageable once they back way off coffee and caffeine—regardless of whether those symptoms are exclusively premenstrual or not.

Keep your blood sugar balanced: Erratic blood sugar fluctuations, sometimes called hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, increase your stress hormone levels, which as we mentioned can put you in the PMS loop. But good blood sugar regulation helps both long-term and daily PMS symptom control—dramatic fluctuations make for a shorter fuse.

Here are three simple dietary essentials to maintaining balanced blood sugar:

  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Make sure all your meals and snacks have some source of protein.
    For example, rather than having just oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, include some chopped nuts or an egg. Rather than just salad and bread at lunch, include some chicken or tofu.
  • Some women with unsteady blood sugar find they must eat three meals and two snacks per day to ward off problems.

While you're at it, avoid white sugar (sweets) as much as possible—and if you must eat them, wait until after lunch. And keep in mind that alcohol and caffeine both exacerbate poor blood sugar control.

Take a deep breath: There are several ways to break up your thought pattern if you're upset, or getting upset, and taking a breath is one of the best. You can also think of it as taking a moment to compose yourself, stepping back from a situation for just a moment, catching yourself and asking how important the situation really is—even though the answer might be, very important!

However, the recommendation to take a deep breath is tried and true. But what that actually means is taking a slow, relaxed breath that appears to fill your abdomen rather than your chest, preferably breathing in and out through your nose. (Use care not to overdo it or hyperventilate, as this can bring on a panic attack in someone prone to them.) The best thing about that deep breath is that by interrupting your usual pattern of breathing, you interrupt your emotional and thought pattern in that moment, allowing you to gain a little perspective that might stop PMS emotions and irritability from overtaking you. Breathing through your nose also invokes your parasympathetic nervous system, which can have a calming influence.

Some other strategies that we've seen work to relieve PMS irritability, especially in combination with a holistic prevention program, include yoga, meditation, prayer, religious faith, and counseling. Remember, PMS irritability is real, and you can do something about it.

Real, Natural Relief—So You Can Feel Great All Month Long

PMS and PMDD misery aren't always taken seriously enough by doctors, family, and friends. At PMS Comfort, our whole purpose is to empower and educate you about premenstrual symptoms, and to provide real, natural relief so that you can feel great all month long. Our all-natural doctor-designed programs are based on decades of experience helping thousands of women recover from what you've been going through. Our Herbal Relief formula, when combined with our diet and lifestyle guidance, addresses more than just your symptoms—it can help bring your body and mind back into balance, and help you get and stay healthy. Plus, we're here to support you, every step of the way.

To learn more about your PMS and PMDD symptoms, take the PMS Comfort quiz. Or, start feeling better today, for as little as 89 cents per day.

We want to help. Give us a call at 1-800-731-6327, drop us an e-mail, or send us your question.

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Principal Author: Daniel J. Heller, N.D.
Last Modified: April 3, 2014

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