Why do I feel so down and almost depressed before my menstrual cycle? Why do I have PMS?
Short Answer: Hormones and Neurotransmitters (aka chemicals released in the brain)
Hormone culprits are Estrogen and Progesterone.
Neurotransmitter culprits are Serotonin, Dopamine and GABA.
If you look at the menstrual cycle picture below, you can notice that for most women as you approach day 28, the hormones Estrogen and Progesterone come tumbling down. By the time you have started menses (bleeding), those hormones are at its lowest point.
Low Estrogen causes depression, anxiety, fatigue and bloating.
Low progesterone causes anxiety, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, bloating and carb cravings.
Right now, you might be saying …AHHHHHHHHH, that’s why I feel like that.
Now that you understand why hormones are the culprit of you feeling frumpy up to and during your menses we can move on to the next culprit, the neurotransmitters.
Our neurotransmitters are linked to your hormones.
Estrogen increases your serotonin activity (Serotonin is the happy neurotransmitter). Having low Estrogen can lead to low levels of Serotonin which leads to depression, worry and carb cravings). Estrogen also increases your dopamine activity (Dopamine is your pleasure neurotransmitter). Low levels of Dopamine lead to apathy and low satisfaction.
Progesterone helps with GABA receptor sensitivity and when GABA is low you feel irritable, anxious and stressed.
Unfortunately, that is just the way the female body works and it’s natural to feel frumpy during our menses. However, there is something we can do to help while we are in menses and it is Theanine. Tea naturally has a high theanine content which acts as a GABA receptor agonist and modulates Serotonin, GABA and dopamine levels.1,2