Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a physiological condition, in which the female experiences a variety of symptoms, just before the start of her next menstrual period. The symptoms begin a few days before the period and are relieved when the menstrual bleeding starts.
Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of PMS, in that it’s symptoms can lead to significant obstruction in daily activities.
The exact cause of Premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but some of the following factors are known to play a role in the development of PMS and PMDD:
- Cyclic changes in hormones (Estrogen, and Progesterone)
- Fluctuations in the brain biochemistry (change in levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for keeping mood stable)
- Underlying depression
The symptoms are a combination of physical, and psychological problems. Some of them are listed below:
- Mood swings or irritability
- Weight gain due to fluid retention
- Appetite changes, and food craving
- Abdominal bloating
- Trouble concentrating
- Crying for no, or a very small reason
The symptoms of PMDD are similar to PMS symptoms, but they are much more severe, and the mood swings and emotional disturbances especially stand out.
There are no particular tests to diagnose PMS and PMDD, so the diagnosis is made purely by the patient’s medical history.
The treatment is a two-step process. Initially PMS is managed by lifestyle changes, but if that doesn’t help, some medications can be taken to improve the symptoms.
Lifestyle changes consist of:
- Eating healthy, small, frequent meals
- Stress reduction
- Hormonal contraceptives