Mood Swings or PMS? Know about Premenstrual Syndrome

What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is defined as a combination of symptoms women get around 1 to 2 weeks before their period. These symptoms can be emotional, physical or behavioural and usually go away when the period starts.

What are the symptoms?

The list of symptoms is long, and different for all women. But, most women experience only some of these symptoms.

Physical symptoms

  • Bloated tummy
  • Stomach cramps
  • Tender breasts
  • Hunger
  • Headache
  • Muscle and Joint pain
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain related to fluid retention

Emotional and behavioural symptoms

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Crying spells
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability or anger
  • Appetite changes and food cravings
  • Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor concentration

Who experiences PMS?

At least three in four women reported to have experienced one or more symptoms of PMS in their lifetime.

These symptoms are most common in women who:

  • Are in their late 20s to early 40s
  • Have had a child
  • Have family members with depression
  • Have a personal history of postpartum depression, depression or bipolar disorder

What causes PMS?

While the exact causes of PMS are unknown, several factors may contribute to it. Some of these may be:

  • Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle
  • Chemical changes in the brain, including fluctuations in serotonin levels

PMS or mood swing?

It is important to not confuse general stress and mood swings with PMS. If the symptoms are so strong that they interfere in your everyday life, creating trouble at work and home, it might be PMS.

Another way to confirm the symptoms is if you have them 5 days before your periods for at least three months in a row.

How to deal with PMS?

While PMS symptoms cannot be completely relieved, here are a few things you can do at your end to make it bearable:

  • Workout for 30 mins every day
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid tobacco, caffeine and alcohol
  • Try to control your stress levels
  • Keep track of your mood swings in a journal

Is PMS real?

Several studies and researchers have often debated the idea of PMS. Some researchers claim that reproductive hormones do cause some physical and emotional symptoms in women (cramps, sadness) but for the majority of women, these symptoms don't threaten their ability to function socially or professionally. Others believe that PMS and its symptoms cannot be ruled out completely.

In case you have tried different methods but still have severe PMS symptoms, you must get in touch with a gynaecologist.

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