Understand mood swings for mental well-being

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a physiologic process in women where mood swings are one of the symptoms that influence our emotional, physical and behavioural reactions during menstruation.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a physiologic process in women where mood swings are one of the symptoms that influence our emotional, physical and behavioural reactions during menstruation.

Published Nov 28, 2023



In a single day, have you had an emotional roller-coaster of mood swings coupled with crying spells, angry outbursts and anxiety attacks but return to a stable emotional state?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a physiologic process in women where mood swings are one of the symptoms that influence our emotional, physical and behavioural reactions during menstruation. While PMS may seem like a breeze for some women, it can be unbearable for others.

In recent decades, women’s health has seen a rise in interest not just in reproductive processes but in all areas of health. Psychology takes on the role of prevention against the effects of menstrual moods. ‘Mood’ is understood as a background emotion that persists over time. Although moods and emotions share many similarities, they are not the same. Moods can either be positive with enthusiasm and activeness or be negative, uneasy and tense which are the opposite of being calm and relaxed.

Many women view PMS mood swings as the most disruptive to their well-being. However, inventive strategies can help maintain optimal mood levels during your cycle which are likely to be less positive than usual. This requires motivation and discipline to commence and continue, with monthly strategies in place to maintain mood benefits.

The current view is that positive psychological approaches are essential to understanding mood swings as a broader issue that incorporates ‘well-being’. Young girls and women were observed to have high rates of mood swings in the days leading up to menstruation. Menstruation is a natural, repetitive reproductive process in women that begins at puberty and ends at menopause.

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor. Picture: Supplied

PMS can cause emotional ups and downs, as some women acknowledge, starting a week to two weeks before your cycle and end a day or two after menstruation begins. Mood swings happen during the last phase of the menstrual cycle usually on day 14 to 28 of a woman’s cycle. Once menstruation begins, mood swings tend to disappear. Although the exact cause of PMS is still a mystery to researchers, these emotional disturbances are thought to be linked to the hormones’ rise and fall.

Common symptoms of PMS include mood swing, irritability, headaches, muscle pain and poor work/academic performance. Severe PMS can trigger mood swings that negatively impact relationships and daily life activities. If severe PMS is unbearable emotionally, medication may be necessary. This option stabilises moods and emotional well-being in the weeks before menstruation and reduces the frequency and severity of PMS.

A simple lifestyle change setting provides a calmer baseline each day against oncoming mood swings. Take control of your menstrual cycle by planning for PMS. The practice of positive thinking before a cycle may help strategise more effectively. Create simple, realistic strategies that fit into daily routines to control mood swings and other emotional difficulties. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as massages, an exercise class or surround yourself with positive influences during your premenstrual week. Spending more time alone provides room for reflection, thought and ideas to thrive.

Keep a mood diary to monitor and recognise your emotions as mood swings occur during the cycle. Non-drug management involves taking mineral supplements like calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, E and B6. Eat a balanced diet that is low in added sugar, sodium and caffeine along with aerobic exercise to lessen the effects of mood swings. Herbal supplements are proving to be both safe and effective in treating PMS with mood swings.

Calming your mind and body can be achieved through stress reduction programs, deep breathing exercise, meditation and yoga especially when you start feeling PMS symptoms. A daily aromatherapy bath, adequate sleep and rest can help keep a calm-energetic mood which is a useful defence against mood swings.

While mood is well-known for its whimsical nature, defining what mood really means is somewhat more complicated. ‘Mood’ itself is unstable rather than stable and can change throughout the day for different reasons. The importance of women’s health lies in taking women’s accounts of their experiences seriously, even if defining PMS as being problematic may not always be appropriate. Those who experience it should not be humiliated by others.

It is perhaps more useful to understand the reasons why these responses surface monthly and strategise accordingly to prevent moods from progressing to be problematic. Ultimately, your premenstrual days are a time to practice self-care, patience and kindness towards yourself. These intentional efforts have a positive impact on your well-being and mood and ensures optimal balance during a menstrual cycle.

By adopting a positive psychological lens, understand that our brain thrives on consistent routine. Each of us have a built-in basic program called ‘self-healing’. Our brain has a natural tendency to gravitate towards the necessary strategies meant to overcome disruptive emotions, allowing us to take control of our premenstrual moods.

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a Psychology Advisor.

Daily News