PMS Mood Swings: How to Control Them

By Jennifer Hanes, D.O.

woman in bed with bad pms symptomsDo you dread the emotional roller coaster of your monthly cycle? Do you feel like a different woman in the days just before your period?

You are definitely not alone. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects up to 85% of menstruating women. Staggering number considering it is a syndrome whose exact cause and cure have yet to be identified. It is time we examine this monthly occurrence and focus on the emotional aspect of this condition.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology lists aggression, trouble concentrating, fatigue, tearfulness, irritability, anxiety, mood swings and depression as emotional symptoms associated with PMS. We are all too familiar with the woman who attributes her behavior to “I am just PMS-ing” or “Donʼt blame me, it is my hormones.”

 Certainly hormones can certainly impact mood and behavior. But what if there are other forces in play that have not yet been recognized?

What if, the freedom that comes with the “PMS Free-pass “ is really an expression ofthe emotions we have contained the other three weeks of the month? What if the feelings expressed in those heated or tearful moments of PMS are the result of the fear and anxiety that have bubbled up from under our collective, always-pleasing-others-at-our own-expense attitude during the rest of our cycle?  Has PMS become the dis-inhibitor that was once alcohol? Does it take an excuse of hormones for us to have the courage to say what we truly think and feel?

 Not necessarily.

The solution: examine and honor your feelings. This way, you can prevent stockpiling all that negativity.

Write down the issues that bother you the next time you experience the PMS avalanche of emotions. Then, explore deeper and ask yourself what events led to those feelings. If you are angry with your boss, try to remember if there was in incident earlier in the month that caused you tension, which you chose to ignore at the time. Continue this exercise and write as many examples you can think of until you begin to see a pattern.

 Another example, is it really how the dishwasher is loaded at home that bothers you? Or on a deeper level is it that you feel a lack of control or feel your wishes are unimportant?

In calmer moments, begin to express your concerns as they arise during the course of the entire month. Perhaps it would be like this: “I know I was really cranky and snapped at you. I apologize, it was out of line. I have given my behavior a lot of thought and feel that maybe the dishwasher isnʼt about the dishes, but rather that I feel I am being disrespected in other areas. May I share my thoughts with you?”

 If you think this seem crazy, ask yourself  why. Would rather continue your monthly rants? Perhaps you are afraid to face the issues at the core of your monthly tantrums. I understand. I have learned to voice my concerns as they occur rather than harboring ill feelings, and thus, the emotional turmoil of my own cycle has improved. This is true for my patients as well. As a physician, I realize this is not scientific data, but lack of objective evidence does not make a reality any less true.

 What if, just if, we respected our feelings and ourselves enough to acknowledge negative thoughts and emotions–when they actually occur, rather than harboring them for weeks? Perhaps the list of PMS symptoms would shorten dramatically. But even if I am wrong, wouldnʼt the symptoms of PMS be easier to live with if we lightened the load of the emotional baggage we carry-over from week to week? So while conventional medicine will continue to treat PMS with medication, diet and exercise, an additional approach to heal the emotional core of a woman can only augment any additional therapy she chooses.


A board certified emergency physician, Jennifer Hanes, D.O., discovered that patients have greater success when they understand their body.  With that unique philosophy, she founded Empowered Medicine, PLLC, where knowledge is powerful medicine.  She empowers patients with her articles, motivational speeches and private consultations.  You can learn more at