Post Period Depression

What is post period depression?

Post period depression, also known as post-menstrual syndrome or depression, causes an uncharacteristically low mood and depressed feelings in the days after your period has finished.

In some instances, it can last for as long as two weeks after menstruation is over, which means it can have a serious impact on quality of life. Although premenstrual tension is the most common and widely talked-about symptom of menstruation, post period depression is also a serious problem for many women and should be reported to a doctor.

The impact of hormones on mood

Most of us are aware that hormones are to blame for the difficult mood swings that many experience in the days before menstruation starts. Hormones are also to blame for post period depression.

Once menstruation is over, progesterone levels in the body suddenly fall, and this can cause anxiety and nervousness, feelings of sadness and a tense mood. It can be likened to the "three-day blues" that many new moms attest to after giving birth; once the baby is born, progesterone levels fall very quickly, leading to a temporary depressed state until hormone levels begin to get back to normal. Although the drop in progesterone is less severe after menstruation than after pregnancy, the effect on mood can be very similar.

What is particularly interesting about post period depression is that it may not always occur every month. Some may not experience it at all, and others may only notice it every once in a while. This can make it difficult to understand the patterns in mood and decipher whether post-menstrual hormone changes are to blame for depression symptoms.

Symptoms of post period depression

There is a wide range of mental and physical symptoms of post-menstrual syndrome, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood
  • Tense mood and anger
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Headaches and pain in neck and back
  • Fatigue.

Treatments for post period depression

The effects of post period depression are temporary and tend to only last a few days. For this reason, sufferers may choose to find their own methods of coping with the depression symptoms. This might include:

  • Keeping a journal to note down emotions, times and dates in order to find patterns and identify the points in the menstrual cycle when depression symptoms are most likely.
  • Doing low-intensity exercise, such as Pilates or yoga, to help naturally lift mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Avoiding alcohol, which is a known depressant and could worsen symptoms.

If symptoms of post period depression become particularly severe and are having a significant impact on quality of life, it may be necessary to seek other treatments, such as:

Changing contraception methods

Hormonal contraceptives such as the pill can have major effects on hormone levels in the body. Doctors may advise a patient starts taking hormonal contraception, try a different type of hormonal contraception, or stop hormonal contraception altogether to alleviate post period depression.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant medications may be prescribed in the most extreme cases, as these can help to stabilize mood throughout the entire menstrual cycle. However, it can take some time to find a medication or combination of medications that give the best results.

Psychotherapy

Although post period depression is largely biological, it can be exacerbated if sufferers are already experiencing or struggling to cope with trauma, stress or anxiety.

There are various psychotherapy methods that can help individuals to pinpoint the emotional causes of the depressed mood and change their way of thinking about stressful events, in order to help them better cope with their low mood or anxiety after their period.

Worsening of symptoms after period for women with depression

For those who are already suffering from anxiety disorders or depression, the impact of changing hormone levels after their period can make symptoms significantly worse.

In these instances, it is important that sufferers of depression speak to their doctor or other healthcare professional for advice. It may be advised that they use or change their hormonal contraception to alleviate the severity of post period depression.

When to seek help for depression

If you've noticed that you routinely feel depressed in the first few days or the week after your period, you should speak to your doctor for advice and discuss possible treatment methods.

Those who feel that depression is having a significant impact on their daily routine or work should seek medical help as soon as possible.

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Last Reviewed:
June 13, 2017
Last Updated:
October 09, 2017