How can your hormones impact anxiety during your monthly cycle?

/How can your hormones impact anxiety during your monthly cycle?

How can your hormones impact anxiety during your monthly cycle?

My Hormonology

Ever experience nervousness, panic or dread that’s out of proportion for the situation or that hits you out of the blue for no reason–and you don’t know why?

The problem may be at least partly due to where you are in your monthly cycle.

Research shows that hormones can impact areas of the brain associated with anxiety, making you more likely to experiencing excessive worry on certain days of your cycle.

To find out how your hormones could be impacting your anxiety levels, here’s a quick Hormonology Guide to show you why you may be anxious on some days and calmer on others.

While you’ll see that anxiety is possible in all weeks of your cycle due to hormones, you may notice you only experience it during a certain week or two, possible because you’re more sensitive to specific hormonal fluctuations happening on those days. (To track your anxiety episodes and pinpoint your hormonal trigger, try writing them in a daily calendar or using the note-taking feature on my free Hormone Horoscope menstrual cycle tracker app available at the App Store and Google Play.)

Once you find out how hormones may be impacting your anxiety, scroll down for simple, study-proven ways to usher in calm….

Week 1
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
Estrogen rises
Your estrogen starts out at rock-bottom at the start of Week 1–which is the first day of your period–and its level rises throughout these seven days of your cycle. The higher this hormone climbs, the more it boosts your physical and mental energy. While that’s usually good news, if you’re sensitive to rising estrogen, you could experience a temporary bout of anxiety, nervous energy or the jitters–especially if you drink caffeine, which exacerbates these effects–as your body gets used to this upward hormonal climb.

Week 2
Day 8 to Day 14 (or your ovulation day)
Estrogen and testosterone rise till they peak
There’s a lot to love about your Week 2 (which starts 8 days after your period): You’ve got more physical and mental energy, your brain skills can’t be beat, you’re eloquent and confident and your mood is soaring. However, there’s one potential downside: High estrogen is known to trigger anxiety in women. That’s because this hormone intensifies and prolongs your stress response to issues big and small. Plus, it prompts more brain “arousal”, making you more easily pushed into antsiness territory. This means you could experience symptoms of anxiety–such as worry, restlessness, feeling on-edge, irritability or tension–when faced with a stressful situation, say, an upcoming job interview or dinner with your new sweetheart’s parents. Or you may get a bout of anxiety out of the blue that has no obvious cause.

Week 3
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Progesterone rises; estrogen and testosterone drop for half the week, then estrogen rises again
This is a mixed-bag kind of a week. If you’re sensitive to plunging estrogen, you may notice anxiety symptoms kick in during the first few days of your Week 3 as estrogen descends, bringing down mood-stabilizing serotonin in the brain. However, chances are, this anxiety response may be blunted by rising progesterone, which is a hormone that has a sedating effect.

There’s good news to report for the second half of your Week 3: During these days, you’ll likely be experiencing a lot more soothing calm than in other days of your cycle. That’s because estrogen levels go back up, boosting serotonin back up with it–and it’s paired with calming progesterone, making you mellow.

There is an exception to this Week 3 mellowness, however: If you go without food for too long. Many women become more sensitive to drops in blood sugar during the second half of their cycle, which occurs when you haven’t eaten for awhile. This is a side effect of higher levels of progesterone. If you notice you become intensely anxious, stressed, nervous or angry due to a small, inconsequential reason or completely out of the blue, try eating food. If the mood issue is blood sugar-related, you should be feeling calmer within a few minutes as your blood sugar stabilizes.

Week 4
Final 6 days of your cycle
Estrogen and progesterone plunge
During your premenstrual Week 4, you may spend more time fretting about upcoming events, like a big bill that’s due, a dental appointment or a business trip. Blame for the extra anxiety goes to plunging estrogen, which brings down mood stabilizing serotonin as it descends. Another Week 4 anxiety-trigger: Insomnia. Research out of the University of California, Berkeley, shows that getting too little shut-eye (even for a single night) creates changes in the emotional centers of the brain that ratchets up “anticipatory anxiety” characterized by excessive worry.

If you’re having trouble sleeping in Week 4, try sipping chamomile tea three or four hours prior to bedtime, which has a mildly sedating effect and helps lull you to sleep. Then, make sure your bedroom is free of odors, noise and light, which can rouse you more easily during this week of your cycle. Studies also show a sound machine helps problem sleepers drift off faster. If you don’t have one, you can log onto, which offers free nature-themed, ambient and white noise sounds, plus an alarm clock to wake you up.

So, what can you do about reducing your anxiety?

There are many proven, natural techniques for calming anxiety when it arises and easing its grip on you. Some you can try:

  • Take slow—but not deep—breaths: Heard slow, deep breathing can calm you fast? According to research out of Southern Methodist University, slow, shallow breaths may soothe you more effectively. As the researchers explain it, deep breathing causes you to exhale an abnormally high amount of carbon dioxide, which in turn, triggers dizziness and a suffocating sensation, leading to more panic. By taking shallow breaths, you limit the carbon dioxide you expel, which calms you and lessens that throat-constricting feeling.
  • Go for a bike ride: Numerous studies show that moderate exercise (such as brisk walking, jogging, skating and bike riding) reduces anxiety and stress for up to an hour by triggering the release of calming brain chemicals. Do you get anxiety about having anxiety, for instance, do you worry about experiencing the symptoms of a panic attack? Then you may have “high anxiety sensitivity”. To combat it, do longer or more intense exercise. Research from Southern Methodist University and University of Vermont shows that high levels of exercise blunt your response to panic-triggering situations.
  • Sip chamomile tea: Scientists have found that this herbal brew contains compounds that have a calming anti-anxiety effect.
  • Try pine bark extract: In a study out of Italy’s Pescara University, folks who took 100 mg. of the pine bark extract Pycnogenol daily for eight weeks saw their anxiety levels drop by 17%. Pycnogenol is rich in antioxidants that boost blood flow to the brain, feeding it with nutrients that make it less sensitive to tense situations, so you stay calm. (Available at health food and vitamin stores.)
  • Sniff jasmine: The scent of jasmine has the ability to trigger calm by enhancing the effect of a certain brain chemical–GABA, reports the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation: This easy meditation technique—which involves sitting with your back straight and focusing solely on your breath—has been shown in study after study to dramatically reduce anxiety symptoms. Find out more about how to do it here. Or consider joining a meditation group that meets regularly.

Note: Before taking any new supplement, herb or medication, talk with your doctor and look up interactions and side effects on, or MedlinePlus.

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My Hormonology

About the Author:

Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods and Potential and creator of the popular Hormone Horoscope apps and Female Forecaster app. She teaches how hormones impact a woman's moods, health and behavior in talks and workshops.


  1. Gabrielle Lichterman August 18, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Hi Jackie, if you get anxiety between Days 6 and 10, sounds like you’re sensitive to the quick upshoot of estrogen at this time in your cycle. Hormone sensitivity can occur at any point due to a variety of factors, such as stress, age, too little sleep, dietary influences, medication, illness, etc. There’s no way for me to know why you’re having an issue with anxiety now when you didn’t before. And, there is no way for me or any other person to know if it’s due to hormone imbalances (such as low progesterone) who does not hold a medical degree. Only your doctor can test for and interpret hormone lab tests. And because of this, I always advise that any hormone — whether it’s over-the-counter progesterone or a prescription for hormones — is only taken under the care of a physician (such as your GP, OB/GYN or endocrinologist). Even though progesterone is available at drugstores, hormones have a wide variety of effects on your brain and body. As a result, using it could be masking a problem, worsening an existing problem or creating a whole new problem. Only someone with your full medical history should be prescribing it, then monitoring it closely to avoid problems.

    As you know, anxiety is an issue that can be tricky to solve. I’m glad you’re trying different remedies. I hope you continue to explore remedies. I’ve written about quite a few natural study-back approaches here:

    Thank you for downloading my Hormone Horoscope app and for sharing it with your girlfriends. I really appreciate your support!

  2. Jackie August 18, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    So helpful, thank you! And I have the app and love that as well, have gotten a few of my girlfriends hooked on it and they love it too.

    I’m in the middle of high anxiety, but I’ve been tracking the incidents and it’s been occurring between days 6 through 10 of my cycle for the past 6 months or so. I’m currently on day 9 and had to read this just to remind myself it’s only hormones! I never used to be this way. Do you think it’s an indicator that my progesterone levels are too low? I apply a progesterone cream every day that my nutritionist recommended, wondering if I should be upping that dose.

  3. Gabrielle Lichterman June 20, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    I wish I could help you with this problem, Michelle. But, aside from symptoms of hot flashes associated with menopause, I don’t know what could be causing this. Have you tried remedies that quell hot flashes, such as hormone therapy from your healthcare provider or holistic treatments known to slash hot flash symptoms, such as regular exercise, meditation, yoga and reducing caffeine intake?

  4. Michelle June 10, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    I am 57 years old and have not had a period in 3 years about every 4 to 6 weeks my bowels become very loose. One day I sweat all day the next I’m chilled. Then I get this terrible feeling of crawling out of my skin my blood pressure and pulse do not increase. It’s an awful feeling. The only thing that takes it away is Valium. It lasts for 5 days and leaves like it comes. I’ve been to the Mayor Clinic shuffled from department to department with no results. I’ve tried numerous antidepressants which all caused severe anxiety. Nobody has a cause or a cure. Any suggestions?

  5. Gabrielle Lichterman June 8, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    Tracey, it sounds like you’re sensitive to high estrogen during the middle of your cycle. This might ease once your hormones balance out post-Pill. But, if they don’t, you can use strategies to tamp down anxiety or keep it from spiking as high, such as meditation, yoga, t’ai chi, moderate-intensity exercise and natural relaxants, like chamomile. If these aren’t enough, a cognitive behavioral therapist can teach you tools for noticing when anxiety is beginning to rise and ways to keep it from spiking higher. This kind of therapy is a short-term (about six months) treatment and is often covered by health insurance if you’re in the U.S.

  6. Tracey May 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

    My anxiety is out of control before, during, and just after ovulation. I came off of birth control pills about 3 months ago so I am hopeful that once my hormones regulate this will go away. I spent 6 days crying my eyes out. I’m going to have my GYNO test my hormone levels.

  7. Gabrielle Lichterman April 12, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you.

  8. stoma March 31, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    The information was good and useful

  9. Anonymous February 15, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I am recently having anxiety before and during my period. I went and saw my Gynecology and he did nothing. He said I should go and see a psychologist. These anxiety feeling are real and can be intense. Reading this article helps me to put things into perspective and to go and get the help that I need to over come this horrible feeling. I have anxiety two days before my period and on the last day of my period.

    Does anyone have any tips and how to eliminate PMS anxiety?

  10. Megan January 24, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I feel anxiety although it is probably my period.

  11. Gabrielle Lichterman January 23, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I’m glad you found this article helpful for explaining your Week 4 anxiety and panic. As for anxiety tied to perimenopause, research (such as this shows that fluctuations in estrogen levels can increase the risk of stress, anxiety and depression. If you are having trouble coping, I urge you to seek out professional help, including a trusted cognitive behavioral therapist (who can teach you proven tactics for identifying anxiety triggers and symptoms and reducing them), a registered dietitian (who can assist you with a diet that can help manange your moods) and your doctor (if you want to pharmacological help, such as anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants). Meditation, yoga, t’ai chi and exercise, when done regularly, have all been shown to help reduce anxiety and down moods. Please do not experiment with over-the-counter herbs and hormones (such as progesterone). Without proper guidance, they can make your anxiety or moods worse — and can have harmful effects.

  12. Clare January 16, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I’m currently in week 4 with really high anxiety and panic. Reading this has helped me try to rationalize it, so thank you. But I think I’m in perimenopause so my hormones are even more out of whack. Do you have any info on anxiety and peri as I’m feeling like I really can’t cope.

  13. Gabrielle Lichterman January 11, 2018 at 9:39 am

    This article’s goal is to show you what hormonal effects could be contributing to the anxiety you feel at a particular time in your monthly cycle. So, if you get anxiety repeatedly on a certain cycle day, you can now understand one of the reasons why. Unless you’re particularly prone to anxiety, chances are, you experience greater anxiety at only one or two points in your cycle. This article doesn’t mean to suggest you’re likely to get anxiety at all points described.

  14. N January 11, 2018 at 4:14 am

    So by reading this I could have increased anxiety any time during the month, not particularly helpful!!

  15. womancup January 3, 2018 at 4:02 am

    Good post!

  16. Gabrielle Lichterman November 7, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Thanks so much, Sara. I’m glad you’re finding this information useful!

  17. Sara October 14, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I am really loving all the articles on your site! I have wondered for a long time how my hormones were impacting my mood and anxiety. This is really great info. Thank you!

  18. Gabrielle Lichterman August 2, 2017 at 5:58 am

    I’m so glad this information could give you a bit of insight that you find helpful, Debby.

  19. Debby August 2, 2017 at 2:08 am

    Thanks, this has really helped relieved me a lot

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