If you know that your period is coming when you start to feel anxious – worrying too much about the little things, feeling shaky, out of control, and downright nauseated with anxiety – then this is for you! You are likely experiencing PMS symptoms that fall under what is known as Premenstrual syndrome type A, the A meaning anxiety!
There are actually four types of PMS, also including PMS C (cravings), PMS D (depression), and PMS H (hyperhydration). In this article, we’ll be focusing on PMS A, including the potential causes of these PMS symptoms and tips to help find a natural balance.
What is PMS type A
As you’ve already seen, PMS A is all about anxiety. However, that’s not the only symptom of this PMS type. Women experiencing PMS type A may also encounter the following PMS symptoms:
• Mood swings
• Nervous tension
• Heart palpitations
• Panic attacks
The Causes of PMS Anxiety
There are four possible underlying reasons a woman may experience PMS A before her flow begins. We outline them here:
Cortisol, our stress hormone, naturally spikes just before our period. Cortisol can contribute to anxiety and its related symptoms. Beyond this, cortisol when released (especially under chronic, long-term stress), signals our bodies to release more sugar into the blood, and subsequently more insulin.
You’ll see how this can affect PMS A in the section below. Lastly, cortisol is made from the same precursors as our sec hormones like estrogen and progesterone. When we’re stressed, our body puts priority on making cortisol rather than sex hormones, and this can lead to imbalanced estrogen and progesterone, also outlined below.
Imbalanced Blood Sugar
In my clinical experience as a holistic nutritionist, I’ve never seen a woman with sex hormone imbalances that didn’t also have imbalanced blood sugar. Generally, this imbalance comes from poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and of course – stress, as we just talked about. When a woman experiences low blood sugar or hypoglycemic episodes (from not eating for a while or experiencing insulin resistance) between meals, often the first signs are mental or emotional – including anxiety. If you’ve ever felt “hangry”- both hungry and angry, or perhaps even shaky and heart-racing between meals or if you’ve skipped a meal, this is what I’m talking about.
High Estrogen/Low Progesterone
Both estrogen and progesterone have a very delicate balance. Estrogen is highest in the first half of the cycle, and progesterone spikes in the second half, after ovulation. Many women in our modern era experience an imbalance between these two hormones – generally too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone, and this is sometimes known as estrogen dominance.
Low progesterone and high estrogen can contribute to PMS A anxiety in a couple of ways. First, progesterone has a connection to our feel-good chemical serotonin and both progesterone and serotonin have a calming effect on the body and mind. Having low progesterone in combination with higher levels of estrogen creates a heightened emotional response in some women, according to one study.
Nutrient deficiencies could also play a role in the development of PMS A. There are many different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help to calm our minds and bodies. Specifically, if you are deficient in all the B vitamins (especially B5 and B6), magnesium (a potent body relaxer) and/or omega-3 fatty acids (like those found in fish and walnuts), you could experience anxiety.
Natural Remedies for PMS A
Here are some suggestions to try and make your pms symptoms a little easier. You can try any combination that really appeals to you, and start there.
Reduce stress in your life as much as possible to balance cortisol production. Include daily rituals or habits to help you feel calm, centered, and grounded. Examples include:
• Guided imagery or visualization
• Spending time in nature
• Reading a good book
• Having a relaxing Epsom salt bath
• Drinking relaxing teas like lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, or mint
• Make a daily gratitude list
Balance Blood Sugar
This is 100% key to remedying most PMS symptoms and many types of hormonal issues. Food is the best way to do this. Including the following with every meal and snack will help to balance blood sugar:
• Protein: at least 20g per meal
• Fat: 1-2 tbsp. per meal
• Carbs: lots non-starchy, vegetable-based carbs 2/3 of the time, at least
Reducing stress and keeping active is also super important for blood sugar balance.
Replace Deficient Nutrients
You can start by adding in foods for your deficient nutrients. For example, I mentioned magnesium deficiency as contributing to anxiety. You can include several magnesium-containing foods like dark leafy greens and nuts and seeds into your diet daily. Try doing the foods first, and then adding magnesium supplements. Finding the right combination that works to alleviate your PMS symptoms might take some trial and error, but it will be worth it.
Written by Robyn Srigley
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