Anger is a difficult enough emotion to deal with, but during the premenstrualphase, those feelings are often more intense and tougher to control. You’re aggravated, you’re moody, and you can blow at any time.
Most PMS experts believe these extreme feelings are part of the hormonal fallout of PMS, and many are using brain scans to look at how the brain is implicated in emotion. Experts also believe that anger is both a learned response (e.g., you are conditioned your upbringing to respond with anger in certain situations) and an inherited trait. Studies have shown that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered. Plus, our society tends to accept anxiety, depression, and other emotions but disapproves of anger. This makes it difficult for many people to express even normal anger and makes women who experience the emotional rollercoaster of PMS seem even more out of control.
Psychologists believe that some people have a low tolerance for frustration. These people get angrier if they are subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance than those with higher thresholds.
A Social Construct?
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a small contingent of scholars and researchers who believe that calling anger a PMS symptom is our society's way of dismissing a woman's feelings. Australian psychologist Jane Ussher is one of the best-known proponents of this theory.
To these scholars, PMS is an idea invented by our society in which women are told their feelings of anger and stress are biological rather than caused by other cultural issues. When women are told that their feelings are part of a disorder, the primary treatments are medical, but no one examines the real reasons so many women feel angry and irritated. This is a radical (and generally unpopular) point of view, but ultimately, researchers like Ussher believe that women are shortchanged by thinking their feelings are just part of the PMS phenomenon.
If you feel like a hostage to your anger every month, you can take steps to manage it. There are multiple strategies, ranging from simple techniques you can try yourself to medication and therapy. Determining which one is right for you depends on the severity of your symptoms, as well as your treatment preferences. If your anger is mild (meaning, you don't find it interferes with your life), using simple strategies to manage your feelings is the easiest starting point. It's simple and low cost and generally involves identifying the stressors in your life and finding ways to relax.
Simple ways to manage your anger include:
Get to the root of your anger: Identify the source of your anger (work, relationships, etc.) so you can deal with appropriately.
Reduce stress: Exercise, get a massage, or simply take time for yourself.
Take vitamins and calcium: Improving your diet and increasing calcium has been shown to improve PMS symptoms dramatically.
Try relaxation therapy: This includes visualizing relaxing experiences, telling yourself to breathe and picturing yourself relaxing.
See the funny side: Humor can bring a more balanced perspective.
Reduce caffeine intake: It can make you more irritable.
Therapy and Medications
If self-care doesn’t solve the problem, then medication, therapy, or both may be the answer. Antidepressants are often prescribed for women who feel disabled by their feelings; they can’t function in the workplace or their behavior interferes with their personal relationships. Prozac, one of the best-known antidepressants, not only reduces anxiety and depression but also has an anti-aggressive effect. Studies have shown SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to be effective in the treatment of PMS. On the other hand, therapy may be more appropriate if you are leery of taking medications or discover they leave you with unpleasant side effects.
Anger management is generally a system of therapeutic techniques that can help manage and control anger. This process can help you identify and avoid the things and events that trigger your anger.
Emotional Symptoms Cognitive restructuring is another therapy to help manage It allows you literally to change the way you think. Instead of flying the handle, you tell yourself a more rational message, or you ten before saying something you’ll regret.