If you have ever found yourself anxious, paranoid or nervous right before your period, then you may be suffering with premenstrual anxiety. Premenstrual anxiety happens as a result of hormonal changes in the ovaries that occur in the premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle, specifically the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone.
The good news is, since menstruation is cyclical, and therefore predictable, there are some nutrition suggestions that may help keep premenstrual anxiety at bay. For example, magnesium and vitamin B6 may potentially reduce the effects of premenstrual anxiety. Although more research is needed, one study showed a reduction of mild anxiety after taking magnesium (200mg), and vitamin B6 (50mg) supplements each day, for a period of one month. The study comments that for best results, 2 or more months of daily supplementation may be necessary. According to research, the magnesium/B6 recommendation may not only positively affect anxiety levels, but may also reduce premenstrual mood swings, nervous tension, and irritability.
Of course, diet also plays a key role in how your body performs all physiological processes, including menstruation. Clinical research shows that women with a good quality diet had a lower score of anxiety and other premenstrual symptoms, compared to those with a poor-quality diet. Along the same lines, another study showed that PMS was 2.96 times higher in women consuming fast food compared to those consuming fruits and vegetables. This is because fat may potentially increase estrogen circulation, which may exasperate PMS. When it comes to diet, it is often recommended to reduce your fat intake, while eating whole foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber which can not only benefit your health overall but may also help to improve premenstrual symptoms such as anxiety.
(1) Boyle, NB., Lawton, C., Dye, L. (2017). The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety and stress-A symptomatic review. Nutrients, 9(5). pii: E429. doi: 10.3390/nu9050429.
(2) De Souza, MC., Walker, AF., Robinson, PA., Bolland, K. (2000). A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200mg magnesium plus 50mg vitamin B6 for relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Journal of Women’s Health and Gender Based Medicine, 9(2): 131-9.
(3) Isgin-Atici, K., Kanbur, N., Akgul, S., Buyuktuncer, Z. (2019). Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of Dietitians Association of Australia, Feb 6, doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12515. [Epub ahead of print]
(4) Nillni et al. (2011). Anxiety sensitivity, the menstrual cycle, and panic disorder: A putative neuroendocrine and physiological interaction. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(7): 1183-1191.