It is possible that the emotions you are describing are random but generally there is a reason behind our feelings. The reason may not always be evident or easy to identify. That can be a challenge. If you keep track of your thoughts and feelings you may discover a pattern or trend. For example, you might notice that you begin to experience unexplainable emotions a few days prior to your menstrual cycle. It’s not unusual for women to experience “random” emotions right before their menstrual cycle begins. This is called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). A characteristic of PMS is mood swings. That might explain why once your menstrual cycle ends you feel happier. Think of PMS as a time when emotions are exaggerated. Many women describe feeling overly emotional at least a few days a month. Some women experience PMS more strongly than others. For women who have extreme PMS they are sometimes diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This condition is associated with severe depression and irritability before a menstrual cycle begins.
The fact is that women have an extra challenge when it comes to dealing with their emotions and the reason is often the result of hormonal changes related to menstruation. Men do not have this challenge. They do not experience the same type of hormonal changes. Once you recognize this biological fact, you may be better able to manage the unruly emotions when they occur. Generally speaking, we cannot control our emotions but we can control our reaction to them.
How can you better manage your emotions? One way is to use logic. Emotions and logic are like oil and water. They don’t naturally mix unless you force them to. Using logic to manage emotions is not always easy and it does take practice, but it can be done. When you feel an emotion that seems random, try to analyze it. Examine it and try to understand its origin. If there is no logical reason behind it, recognize that it may be related to hormonal changes and let it go.
Also recognize that being tired can cause emotional instability. This is true for everyone, not just women. If you feel irritable for “no reason” recognize that it may be the tiredness that is causing you to feel a certain way. Acknowledge this and try not to let it rule the way you feel. The idea is to get into the habit of analyzing your emotions, trying to determine their origin, deciding whether they are legitimate and not letting them control your mood.
On the other hand, the emotions you have described may not be the result of PMS. There may be another explanation. It’s possible that you may be experiencing depression or anxiety, although much of what you’ve described is not characteristic of an anxiety disorder. It’s more characteristic of PMS. This is especially true when you described having random sexual arousal. It’s common to have an increase in libido near or during your menstrual cycle. Again, this is often related to hormonal changes. One theory is that because there’s an increase in blood flow and lubrication during the menstrual cycle this heightens sexual arousal.
As I mentioned before it might be helpful if you began a journal to document your thoughts and feelings. You may find that your emotions are in fact not random and occur right before or during your menstrual cycle. The likely explanation therefore would be PMS. If your random emotions continue to be a concern for you, you may want to speak to your doctor about your symptoms. He or she may be able to prescribe a medication that could help you during these times. If the symptoms are severe enough some women choose to take birth control as a way to manage their mood. Some also take an antidepressant. I would not recommend either of these for you specifically because I have so few details about your problem, but meeting with a doctor to further explore your situation may be helpful. Thank you for your question.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on October 18, 2009.