Three out of every four menstruating women experience some of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) every month, a few days before they expect their periods. There are many signs and symptoms associated with this condition but most women have only a few of them. The most common of these symptoms are food cravings, grouchiness, the blues, sore breasts, and mood swings.
These are very disparate symptoms so it may be hard for your doctor to pinpoint the cause. The defining factor is timing. If you seem to get even one of these symptoms, every month, month after month, and the timing is just a few days before your period is due, it’s very possible you have PMS.
Women in their late 20’s to their early 40’s are the women most prone to PMS. While the symptoms come and go in a reliable pattern, there may be stronger symptoms during some months than in others. The emotional aspects of PMS can make you and those around you feel as though you’re on a roller coaster ride, but take heart—the duration of PMS is short. The problem is, it comes back every month and you may feel as though you have no control over your emotional wellbeing at those times. The physical aspects of PMS are not easy either and can be so debilitating you may find it difficult to work and keep apace with your regular lifestyle.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of PMS:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Pain in joints and muscles
- Water retention with abdominal bloating and weight gain
- Acne breakouts
- Tender breasts
- Headaches or migraines
- Mood swings
- Food cravings and binge eating
- Feeling withdrawn
- Difficulty concentrating
This may seem like a daunting list of symptoms but most women suffer at most from only a few of these signs of PMS. In the majority of cases, symptoms resolve as the menstrual period arrives—it can seem almost like magic. That said, a very small number of women have such bad symptoms of PMS that psychiatry has given this condition a name of its own: premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
PMDD is characterized by severe depression, poor self-esteem, bouts of rage, despondency, extreme irritability or nervousness, poor concentration, and anxiety. Women with PMDD are often found to have a concomitant mental health condition.