Beat the PMS Version of the “Winter Blues” With Our Tips and Tricks!
If you’re like most premenopausal women, you experience the irritability and moodiness of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) in the days leading up to your period every month.
Yet when daylight hours grow shorter during fall and winter, you may be hit with an exaggerated form of PMS called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). The key symptom is depression, a type of “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Not only that, but women who are more sensitive than average to changes in circadian rhythm could be prone to altered levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone when the seasons turn. What can you do about these problems, short of moving to Florida or Arizona? Plenty! Here’s how to keep your spirits up so that you can enjoy the holidays and not feel as though you want to hole up once a month until spring comes again:
Light therapy lamps, affordable products that are available on Amazon and in your local stores, can go a long way toward boosting your mood when you have PMS/PMDD. These lamps emit light that mimics the outdoor rays of summer. Bonus: You can also use your light therapy lamp during the summer in order to limit the amount of time you spend exposed to potentially damaging UV rays.
Eat to Beat the Blues
A healthy diet is always important, but eating right is never more crucial than when you’re battling PMS/PMDD while the daylight wanes and the weather gets ever chillier. Be sure to eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, and stay away from extra salt. The good news, though, is that giving in to a craving for sweets and other carbohydrates on occasion is fine, especially if you choose dark chocolate. For more on a diet that helps with PMS, see our slideshow here by Dr. Christopher Calapai: The PMS Diet: What You Eat and Drink Can Affect Your Symptoms,
Consider Taking Supplements
According to the Mayo Clinic, some supplements and herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, SAMe, Melatonin, and Omega-3 fatty acids may help to relieve your symptoms. Even so, the Mayo Clinic and other reputable sources add a warning that these over-the-counter products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Don’t let the drop in temperatures lull you into spending the winter indoors on the couch! Exercise is a prime way to fend off mood swings and other PMS symptoms. Think about joining a gym or a mall walking club so you can stay fit without braving the winter weather.
Try Mind-Body Therapies
Yoga, tai chi, massage therapy, and meditation offer ways to ease PMS/PMDD symptoms any time of the year, but these options are particularly important during the winter.
A final note: If you’re feeling down most of the time, and not simply right before your period, you may have clinical depression rather than PMS/PMDD. Be sure to see your healthcare provider to find out if you would benefit from antidepressant medication and/or cognitive behavior therapy. For the majority of women, though, the fact that PMS/PMDD seems worse in the winter is a passing phase that can be treated with good nutrition, regular exercise, and the calming techniques of mind-body therapies. Here’s to your health and happiness even if the weather outside is frightful!