Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has a wide variety of signs and symptoms, including mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. It’s estimated that as many as 3 of every 4 menstruating women have experienced some form of premenstrual syndrome.
Symptoms tend to recur in a predictable pattern. But the physical and emotional changes you experience with premenstrual syndrome may vary from just slightly noticeable all the way to intense.
Still, you don’t have to let these problems control your life. Treatments and lifestyle adjustments can help you reduce or manage the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
The list of potential signs and symptoms for premenstrual syndrome is long, but most women only experience a few of these problems.
Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms
- Tension or anxiety
- Depressed mood
- Crying spells
- Mood swings and irritability or anger
- Appetite changes and food cravings
- Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
- Social withdrawal
- Poor concentration
- Change in libido
Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:
- Cyclic changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
- Chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that’s thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
- Depression. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms
Certain habits might affect the severity of your PMS symptoms. Potential lifestyle factors that could worsen PMS symptoms include:
- smokingTrusted Source
- eating a lot of foods high in fat, sugar, and saltTrusted Source
- a lack of regular physical activity
- a lack of quality sleep
While there’s no cure for PMS, you can take steps to ease your symptoms.
To get relief from mild or moderate symptoms, it may help to give the following strategies a try:
- Drink plenty of fluids to ease abdominal bloating. This includes herbal teas, like red raspberry leaf or chamomile, which may ease cramping.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Consider cutting back on sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol, especially if you’re particularly sensitive to their effects.
- Ask a healthcare professional about trying supplements like folic acid, vitamin B-6, calcium, and magnesium to help reduce cramps and mood symptoms.
- Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to help relieve fatigue and improve overall well-being.
- Try to get at least half an hour of physical activity each day, if you’re able. Exercise can not only help relieve bloating and cramping, but it can also help ease anxiety and depression symptoms.
- Set aside time each day for self-care, which might include exercise, relaxation, time to yourself for hobbies, or time for social interaction.