Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a syndrome that causes physical and emotional discomfort in some women days before the start of their menstrual cycle. It is caused by the changes in the level of hormones during the ovulation process. Studies have not been able to determine why PMS affects some women more severely than others. Severe cases of PMS are called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). There are more than 150 symptoms that are associated with PMS, such as anxiety, weight gain and headaches. These symptoms of PMS are classified as physical, emotional or behavioral.
The physical symptoms of PMS often are experienced most often by a majority of women. An increase in aldosterone, which is a hormone released from the adrenal gland, has been linked to some of the PMS physical symptoms. Some of these symptoms are pain, weight gain, fatigue and breast tenderness. The pain often affects several parts of the body, such as the head, back, muscles and abdomen area.
Emotional symptoms of PMS can cause a woman to feel out of character about herself. This feeling often is felt because the pituitary gland starts to decrease its production of endorphins during ovulation and the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Endorphins are important to the human body because they are known to be a natural mood booster. Some of these emotional symptoms are anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and frequent mood swings.
Behavioral symptoms of PMS can cause a woman to not act like her normal self. She might suddenly have an outburst of anger over a minor issue or can become withdrawn from family members and friends. These symptoms also are linked to changes in the level of the hormones in the woman’s body. Although these symptoms might last for a short period of time, they can interfere with the daily activities of a woman’s life. If the woman is not able to control her behavioral symptoms, they could cause her problems at home, work or school.
In most cases, PMS can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications and changes to the woman’s lifestyle such as exercising and healthier eating. A physician might need to prescribe medications for severe cases PMS if the over-the-counter medications do not provide any improvement in the symptoms. Counseling and therapy also can be recommended to women who have severe emotional and behavioral symptoms that affect their ability to have a normal life.