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Mood Swings: What’s Normal and When You Should Get Help

All PMS jokes aside, mood swings shouldn’t be ruling your life. 

Feeling Overwhelmed

Mood Swings Can Impact Your Mental Health

Mood swings are a reality for women across all the stages of our development. From early puberty to pregnancy and menopause, swiftly-changing from happy to sad and tearful in-between is something few women are stranger to.  That doesn’t make them any easier to cope with, though. And sometimes, rapidly changing moods can become sources of disruption and anxiety, especially if they’re no longer limited to certain points in your menstrual cycle. If you’re concerned about your emotional wellbeing, and the impact that your hormones are having on your mental health, read on.

More information on Mood swings

Know What’s Normal for You

Anxiety, nervousness, irritability, tearfulness, aggression and anger are just some of the emotions you might experience during a mood swing. When you’re PMSing, you might find that you’re mostly tearful and anxious, while your best friend could personify the stereotypical raging PMS monster. It is important to be aware of how your mood swings typically present themselves, so that you’re able to pick up anything out of the ordinary.

Moodiness isn’t Limited to PMS

In terms of hormonal impact on your emotions, mood swings can occur during other times in your life, as well. Pregnancy can play havoc with some expectant mothers’ emotions, with the first trimester and its surge of pregnancy hormones often causing mood swings. Similarly, perimenopause and menopause can come with its fair share of mood swings as well, with many women feeling as if they are experiencing a ‘second puberty’. 

Rule Out Any Medical Conditions

The parameters of normal and abnormal shift from person to person. If you’ve gone from never experiencing rapid mood changes to cycling from anger to sadness to irritability in a single day, it might be an idea to keep a journal and track the ebbs and flows of your emotions. This way, if it’s something that continues, you can approach a medical professional about investigating the possibility of underlying causes, such as a mood disorder, anxiety or even PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

Know Your Family History

Certain medical conditions that contribute to moodiness or even mood disorders (such as Depression or Bipolar Disorder) are hereditary, and as such it can be helpful to know if anybody in your family has a history of experiencing them. That way, if you’re experiencing anything out of the ordinary for you, or sustained periods of depression, anxiety or even mania, you’ll also know whether or not you’re genetically susceptible to them. This is information that can provide important context for a medical professional who might be trying to narrow down a possible cause for your mood swings. 

Although this might be a challenge for people who don’t know their birth parents, or whose parents have passed away, if you can, try to speak to a family member such as your grandparent or aunt or uncle. 

What Counts as ‘Abnormal’?

If you’re wondering about the differences between plain old PMS and PMDD, read the information we’ve gathered here But if you find yourself in a sustained period of sadness, elation or anxiety, you may need to watch that it does not develop into something more serious, or cause you to do things that are out of your control. If you feel as if your emotions are ruling your life, or that you’re doing things that you wouldn’t normally do (overspending, saying things you don’t mean, drinking excessively) then it is definitely worth taking the next step and making an appointment with a doctor or speaking to a nurse at your clinic. 

These Are Red Flags to Watch Out For

If you’re feeling tempted to self-harm, especially if you’ve never done so, hurt those around you or take your own life (suicidal ideation).

If you can’t get out of bed in the morning because life just seems unbearable, you can’t summon up the energy or can’t bear the idea of another day.

If you’ve stopped socialising, doing things that you’d normally enjoy doing (exercising, hobbies, reading) and are noticing changes in your sleeping and eating patterns (over or under eating and sleeping). 

If you’re unable to focus at work, take care of your children or look after yourself (losing the will to maintain personal hygiene is a big sign that something is wrong).

If you’re feeling on top of the world, but to the point where you’re interrupting everybody, making rash decisions and taking unreasonable risks, spending large amounts of money or gambling, shopping or engaging in risky behaviour (like unprotected sex or substance abuse). The above behaviours and feelings can be symptoms of a health condition and should not be ignored. Make note of your feelings, speak to your partner or somebody you trust, and see a medical professional as soon as possible. 

http://www.sadag.org/

SADAG Suicide Helpline 0800 567 567

Frequently Asked Question: Periods

Can I have sex when I'm on my period?

Yes you can. In rare instances, you can still get pregnant. You should also bear in mind that you can still catch a sexually transmitted disease when on your period

Will I smell when I’m on my period?

You might notice a slight odour when you're on your period. Tampons can help with this because they're worn inside your body. If you prefer to use pads, make sure to change them regularly if you notice a strong odour.

How will the contraceptive pill affect my periods?

Some brands of contraceptive pills can reduce your flow or shorten the length of your period. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you during your consultation.

My periods are really heavy, which products should I use?

You’ve got a few options available. Lil-lets Super Plus tampons have the highest absorbency in our range and are great for heavy periods. If you prefer to use an applicator tampon, our super tampons are a really good choice for medium to heavy flow. If you use pads, we suggest using our Night Maxi Pad, which is the highest absorbency pad within our range

What can I do to relieve my period pain?

Although you may not feel like doing it at the time, stretching or gentle exercise will ease this discomfort. Healthy eating is also known to help relieve any period pain. Alternatively, treat yourself to a relaxing bath or cuddle up on the sofa with a hot water bottle. If none of these help, your local pharmacy can give you guidance on suitable pain relief.

How long does a period last?

This can vary from 2 to 5 days and could be up to 10.

Is it okay to have a bath or shower when I have my period?

Yes, it's important to keep yourself clean during your period and hot water can help soothe cramps too!

What do you find is the most effective way to deal with menstrual cramps?

Menstrual cramps vary from menstruator to menstruator. For some, period cramps are little to no pain, whereas for others, it can be a truly excruciating experience. Thus dealing with period cramps can vary. We recommend exploring to opt for home treatments instead of relying heavily on over-the-counter medicine. These two options can assist with cramps:

• Getting regular exercise can help with blood flow and may reduce cramping.
• Put a heating pad or a hot water bottle on your belly, or taking a warm bath. The heat improves blood flow and may ease the pain.

However, if pain does persist, it is recommended to chat to your doctor or gynae

Can I wash my hair during my period?

You totally can! We've often been fed a lot of misinformation. That's not the case - you can take care of yourself (including washing your hair, why not throw in a face mask?), exercise if you're up to it, be around your loved ones and work as normal. Besides the pain and discomfort which accompanies some people's periods, you can continue on as normal.

Is it okay to swim when you're on your period?

Swimming during your period isn't a problem. However, you will want to use a tampon when swimming so you don't bleed on your swimsuit. Pads won't work and will just fill with water. The tampon won't fall out if it is inserted correctly. Go and make a splash!

Have more questions on periods?

Got a question you’ve been too embarrassed to ask? Wondering if what you are experiencing every month is normal?

Join our Lil-Lets Talk community for empowering conversations for people with periods.

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