Premenstrual Syndrome

Leila - July 1st

Definition

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)  has such a wide variety of signs and symptoms so it is a complicated condition to identify. The most common symptoms of PMS are mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. These symptoms affect you only in the days before your monthly period.

About three of every four menstruating women suffer  from premenstrual syndrome. These problems commonly occur in women between their late 20s and early 40s, and they tend to recur in a predictable pattern. The physical and emotional changes may be particularly intense in some months and only slightly noticeable in others.

Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms are:

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

  • Anxiety or tension
  • Poor concentration
  • Crying spells
  • Mood swings and irritability or anger
  • Depressed mood
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Social withdrawal
  • Appetite changes and food cravings

Physical signs and symptoms

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Breast tenderness
  • Weight gain from fluid retention
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Joint or muscle pain

Most women experience just a few of these problems. Sometimes the physical pain and emotional stress are severe enough to affect their daily routines and activities. Fortunately in majority of women, signs and symptoms disappear as the menstrual period begins.

However a few cases with premenstrual syndrome have disabling symptoms every month. This form of PMS refer to premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). which is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome with severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, anger, irritability and tension. These women may have an underlying psychiatric disorder.

Causes

Causes of premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition. An important cause is cyclic changes in hormones, because signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and also disappear with pregnancy and menopause.

Some symptoms are related to chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical that is thought to play a very important role in mood states could trigger the symptoms.

Some PMS symptoms are due to low levels of vitamins and minerals, eating a lot of salty foods, and drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

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