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Depression in Women: What is PMS?

What is PMS?

“I am on an emotional roller coaster. I’m depressed, eating everything in sight, and just ripped my ‘sig-o’s’ head off. Yes, I’m female! Could I have PMS?” 

Here at chipur, we want to look at every possible angle when it comes to depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. And when it comes to depression in women, what you’re about to read is relevant and important.

If you’re a female in your late-20s to early-40s, and enduring the symptoms mentioned in the intro, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is something to consider – and discuss with your doc.

What is PMS?

PMS is a constellations of symptoms, and they’re many and varied. We’ll go into more detail in a short; however, let’s start with the biggies: mood swings, food cravings, tender breasts, irritability, depression, and fatigue.

It’s thought that 75% of menstruating women experience some degree of PMS. Though I hinted PMS can be a factor from the late-20s to early 40s, it tends to peak during the late-20s to early-30s.

The symptoms of PMS typically recur in a predictable pattern. That said, they can be hell to endure in some months, and not nearly-as-bad in others.

Okay, here’s a more comprehensive list of the common emotional, mental, and physical symptoms of PMS…

  • Mood swings, irritability, anger
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety and tension
  • Crying spells
  • Appetite changes, food cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Fluid retention, weight gain, abdominal bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Constipation/diarrhea

Now, for some women, symptoms are severe enough to kick a deep dent into their daily routines and activities. But regardless of severity, for most women, the signs and symptoms of PMS disappear as the menstrual period begins.

What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

If enduring PMS isn’t enough, a small percentage of women have a very difficult monthly tussle with symptoms. Presenting may be a ramped-up version of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Typically presenting with PMDD are severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and tension.

What Causes PMS?

Would it be a surprise if I told you no really knows what causes PMS? And that means we have to approach the matter of cause from a “contributors” point-of-view. Take a look at these…

  • Cyclical hormonal changes: Don’t forget, the signs and symptoms of PMS disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
  • Chemical changes in the brain: The very same neurotransmitter, serotonin, that’s a player in mood changes may play a role in the generation of PMS symptoms.
  • An underlying depressive disorder
  • Stress
  • Poor eating habits

How is PMS Treated?

When it comes to the treatment of PMS, let’s first take a peek at the medications most commonly prescribed/recommended. But please remember two things: Again, PMS is a constellation of symptoms – and treatments are designed to address specific symptoms. Secondly, what may work for one woman, may not for another…

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (e.g.: Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft): The SSRIs are the first-line agents for the medicinal treatment of severe PMS and PMDD. They’re effective in managing depression, fatigue, food cravings, and sleep issues.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g.: Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Naprosyn): NSAIDs are typically used to ease cramping and breast discomfort.
  • Diuretics: Diuretics can help in shedding excess fluids when exercise and limiting salt intake aren’t enough to reduce weight gain, swelling, and bloating. Aldactone (Spironolactone) is often prescribed.
  • Oral contraceptives. They stop ovulation and stabilize hormonal swings.
  • Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera). This injection may be used for severe PMS or PMDD, but it can cause many of the same signs and symptoms that present with the disorders.

And then there are lifestyle changes and home remedies that can assist in the alleviation of PMS symptoms. These include…

  • Diet modification: Eat smaller/more frequent  meals, limit salty foods, choose foods high in complex carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains), and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Daily exercise of at least 30 minutes
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Muscle relaxation/deep breathing exercises
  • Yoga/massage
  • Consider these supplements: calcium, magnesium, Vitamins B-6 and E
  • Herbal supplements: cohosh, ginger, raspberry leaf, dandelion, chasteberry, and evening primrose oil.

Please! As you consider taking non-prescription agents for PMS, be sure to chat with your physician.

Let’s Close

So there’s an elongated thumbnail on PMS and PMDD. Tons of information, I know. But I wanted to provide plenty, so you can approach your doc well-informed.

Again, chipur is about taking into account any and all mood and anxiety disorder contributors/fixes. For our female readers, PMS and PMDD are worthy of consideration and follow-up.

And there you have it!

(Thanks to mayoclinic.com for the resource material.)

How ’bout more chipur articles on the biology of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder? It’s simple – just tap here.

  • Hmm…what a coincidence – I’ve spent the last week reading all about hormones and how they effect mood.
    Another thing to think about for women in their late 30’s and 40’s is peri-menopause.
    Some “investigationing” has led me down some interesting paths.
    I won’t blab on here about it, I’ll put it in the forum if anyone might think it could be helpful.
    Post: Wanna Hear Something Weird?

  • Oh yeah – what I meant to say too is:
    the thing I learnt effects blokes too.