For three out of four women around the globe, the days leading to their monthly period are worrisome. Reason? The often-incapacitating symptoms associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) that plague millions of women around the world can affect their daily mood and functioning and influence their mental and physical health.
So, what are these PMS symptoms that make a menstruating woman spend as many as eleven days before her period begins in distress?
• Emotional and behavioural symptoms
Mood swings are common during PMS. Getting annoyed at something that would not annoy you during your non-PMS days is one of most common signs of PMS. Increased levels of anxiety, intense sadness, anger outbursts and sudden bouts of crying are other symptoms of PMS. Many women also tend to socially withdraw due to the combined effects of mood swings, irritability, and depression. The concentration levels may also decrease as compared to non-PMS days.
Individuals who are undergoing PMS may also experience sudden changes in appetite. For example, if they ate three proper meals every day during their non-PMS days, they may eat very little or more now. There could be changes in their sex drive. Trouble falling asleep as well as staying asleep is another common symptom of PMS, which can lead to feelings of tiredness, which can aggravate the mood swings and inability to concentrate.
These symptoms are interconnected and create some degree of dysfunctionality for all those under PMS. When it becomes moderately to severely dysfunctional, a diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is given.
• Physiological symptoms
Relentless headaches can be a nuisance during PMS. Coupled with the other common symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, it can lead to great difficulty in functioning. Another symptom that affects most women is an acne flare-up all over the face or body due to the hormonal changes brought on by the period cycle. There can be abdominal bloating and weight gain due to fluid retention. Breast tenderness is yet another common symptom of your period approaching soon.
PMS is also known to exacerbate certain other existing conditions such as migraines, asthma, seizures, and clinical mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. One may also feel constipated or have diarrhoea during PMS. Another lesser-known symptom of PMS is sudden intolerance for alcohol.
Premenstrual Syndrome doesn’t have any known specific causes. However, research suggests that PMS causes include:
• Hormonal changes
Hormones are known to wreak havoc. Hormonal changes can lead to some of the symptoms of PMS. However, exactly how these hormones affect the body is not known yet.
• Chemical changes
Certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin which help regulate mood, start to fluctuate a few days before one gets their period. Inadequate amounts may lead to mood changes and emotional symptoms of PMS. Problems such as insomnia, appetite changes can also be linked to changes in serotonin.
The symptoms linked with PMS start to dissipate when menstruation begins or soon after. It is advisable to consult your doctor if the symptoms persist and if needed, consult a mental health professional for any underlying mental health condition that may be getting exacerbated during PMS.