What are the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Different clusters of symptoms appear in different women but in an individual woman, the symptoms tend to be similar from cycle to cycle. The severity, however, may fluctuate fromcycle to cycle. Symptoms usually occur 7 to 10 days before menstruation and may intensify as menstruation approaches. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. Women can have premenstrual syndrome of varying duration and severity from cycle to cycle. The most frequent mood-related
symptoms of premenstrual syndrome include anger and irritability, anxiety, tension, depression, crying, oversensitivity, and exaggerated mood swings. The most frequent physical signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome include fatigue, bloating (due to fluid retention), weight gain, breast tenderness, acne, sleep disturbances with sleeping too much or too little (insomnia), and appetite changes with overeating or food cravings.
PMS symptoms include:
Fatigue: This is the most common symptom of premenstrual syndrome. Women with premenstrual syndrome may feel so tired they can barely get through the day. Some women also may have trouble sleeping at night.
Tension and irritability: A woman with premenstrual syndrome may feel very on edge. Small annoyances seem huge. Often her response is out of proportion to the problem.
Difficulty concentrating: Many women with premenstrual syndrome find it hard to do things that require concentration, such as balancing a checkbook, following recipes, or making business decisions. They may also be forgetful.
Anger: During premenstrual syndrome, normal feelings of anger are often exaggerated. A woman may be more argumentative and lash out at those around her.
Depression: . Sadness and crying easily are common feelings related to premenstrual syndrome. At times the sadness may feel profound and inconsolable.
Food cravings: Some women crave particular foods, such as sweets or salt. Others find their appetite for almost any food increases.
Breast tenderness: Many woman experience swelling and soreness around their nipples or breasts.
Bloating in the abdomen, hands, and legs: Some women with premenstrual syndrome gain weight. Others have fluid shifts to the abdomen, hands, and legs that make them feel uncomfortably swollen or puffy.
Headaches: Duration and severity of headaches vary from woman to woman, but are common during premenstrual syndrome.
If a woman suspects she has premenstrual syndrome, it is imperative to relate the occurrence of the symptoms to the menstrual cycle. However, it is equally important for a woman to evaluate the stresses in her professional and personal life, since these may have a significant impact on how premenstrual symptoms are expressed.
Some women experience very severe premenstrual syndrome. Symptoms of serious psychiatric problems, such as depression or panic attacks, are often most extreme during the premenstrual phase each month and studies have shown that women's suicide attempts, psychiatric hospital admissions, and violent criminal acts are most likely to occur in the premenstrual days. If a woman feels that she may hurt herself or someone else, she should seek immediate medical attention. Fortunately, this is extremely rare.