There’s a reason it’s called premenstrual stress, but sometimes your PMS shows up as premenstrual rage (not a real term, we totally made that up…). If you find yourself throwing tantrums on the regular, anger might be the main emotion that shows up for you during menstruation. Here’s why it happens, what could be to blame, and how to handle those dreaded hissy fits...
PMS is typically experienced in the days or weeks before your period. As well as the physical symptoms, like tiredness, cramps, headaches and acne, you may experience emotional symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, and anger.
PMS is linked to fluctuating hormones, and during ovulation, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and trigger PMS by influencing serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate your mood and sleep, so low levels can lead to feelings of anger.
Not everyone feels PMS anger, but it’s one of the most common symptoms - you are not alone in dealing with it. In fact, it’s so prevalent that one study researched it in accordance with the State–Trait Anger Scale (STAS). This scale helps determine “the manner of anger expression”, and the options range from ‘never’ to ‘very’, consisting of the subscales:
In the study, PMS prevalence was 48.75%, and researchers found ‘Anger Control’ (the ability to control anger) was at a significantly lower level among participants.
If your anger is more than a passing frustration, you may wish to look into premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is thought of as a severe form of PMS, with similar physical and emotional symptoms, but with more extreme mood shifts. Psychological symptoms of PMDD include irritability, lack of control, anger, sensitivity and more.
PMDD can affect up to 8% of people with periods, and in extreme cases has been linked to outbursts of violence, aggression, and antisocial activities. If you think you may have PMDD, speak to your doctor about treating your symptoms.
Anger is a normal human emotion and one we all feel from time to time. Historically, women have been made to feel that expressing anger is somehow wrong, but it’s actually healthy. As long as you are not hurting anyone, you can express anger in whatever way you see fit. However, if your anger is more than an occasional grievance, it’s not serving a purpose and should be addressed.
Managing symptoms of PMS anger often starts with staying away from triggering situations or stressful events. It’s not always possible to avoid these, especially if they take place at work or with family, so here are some practical things to help:
So your anger fizzed up at the wrong moment, and you’re feeling guilty about it? We’ve all been there, don’t worry. Firstly, you don’t have to apologise for getting emotional or having a menstrual cycle - this is normal and should never be used to dismiss your feelings.
However, learning to take responsibility for anger that, in hindsight, you know could be harmful to others, will ensure people you love and interact with daily understand you are trying to improve this symptom. No one wants to be treated like a land mine about to explode, but it may help if people better understand your triggers and boundaries.
Apologise by acknowledging you were wrong, discuss the cause, say you are sorry for how you handled it, and in future, communicate feelings in a constructive way. If you find yourself apologising frequently, it may be time to address the root cause using the above tips.
If PMS anger is a regular occurrence and negatively affects your life, you can speak to someone about it. There are options like talking therapy, anger management programmes, and even help for violent behaviour. You can find more information and resources on the Mind.org.uk website.
Do you experience PMS anger? You can discuss your personal symptoms in our private Full Stop FB group, or ask any questions you may have by DM’ing us on Instagram at @itsyoppie. We’re always happy to hear from you! Don't forget that our personalised menstrual care subscription can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and much more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, so that's one pretty darn big load off your mind.
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