Millions of women are affected by premenstrual syndrome, and if you are included in that number, you should be aware that that are many different ways to help both the emotional and physical ups and downs. You don’t have to suffer through PMS; there are treatments to help.
A recent report by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists showed that at least 85% of women suffer from at least one symptom of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) As many know, PMS is the term that is used to describe the physical and emotional upheaval that women experience in the days leading up to their period.
Scientists don’t know what causes these changes but recent studies out of Sweden show that they may be caused by a raise in sensitivity to the hormone allopregnanolone — in essence, a changed neurotransmitter that doesn’t allow PMS sufferers to adapt to the change in the hormone levels.
But fear not, there is good news. Because PMS is such a widespread health issue for many women, there are many treatments available. From supplements to therapy, the treatments are there to help minimize the symptoms, if not the cause all together.
Elena Moser, LCSW, private practice therapist and clinical director of the Women’s Therapy Center in El Cerrito, California had this to say: “We see many women who talk about PMS. If a woman has PMS, often it creates a lot stress on a pretty regular basis, once a month.”
Is PMS Affecting Your Emotional Health?
If you suffer from a regular occurrence at the same time each month of any of these symptoms, then you are likely suffering from PMS.
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Irritability (most common emotional symptom)
- Loss of Interest in Things you Used to Enjoy
- Mood Swings
- Sleep Problems
About 5% of women have such severe PMS symptoms that they are diagnosed with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), a more severe form of PMS. Women who have PMDD find that they not only suffer severe physical symptoms, but the disorder also interferes with their home and work life.
Treating PMS: A Working Plan
The first thing that one should do to find out if they need treatment for PMS is to keep a log of all of their symptoms. From the emotional swings to the physical feelings, right the date, time, symptom and even what you were doing for at least two months. This will give your doctor something to capture patterns with and better treat the symptoms.
Below are some of the best options for treatment for PMS that you can discuss with your doctor.
Antidepressant Medications: Countering the chemical changes that occur with PMS — especially the more severe form of PMDD, with medication seems to help many women. In fact, a recent research from the University of Pennsylvania showed that 2/3 of women who were given an antidepressant around their PMS time had a 50% improvement in their symptoms — both physical and emotional.
Birth Control: For those who are not trying to get pregnant, birth control works wonders on PMS symptoms. By suppressing ovulation, birth control pills can completely eliminate PMS symptoms.
Calcium: Not only is 600mg’s a day of calcium good for your bones, but it’s been proven to reduce PMS symptoms as well.
Chasteberry: This dietary supplement has been show to play a role in the reduction of PMS symptoms.
Cognitive Therapy: Sometimes just talking about and understanding the symptoms you face can help. This style of therapy has been proven effective and is worth trying.
Diet: To help keep your PMS under control eat lots of fruits, vegetable and whole grains.
Exercise: To help with depression and mood swings, try yoga, aerobics or running.
Fatty Acid: Fatty acids are found in fish, eggs, nuts and vegetable oils, as well as in capsule form.
Fish Oil: As part of a good PMS treatment plan, include fish oil supplements in to your daily diet.
Folic Acid: Supplement your diet with folic acid, which can help reduce the symptoms brought on by PMS.
Sleep: It has been found that sleep disturbances can increase PMS symptoms. If you have a hard time going to sleep or wake up numerous times in the morning, talk with your doctor about treatment plans. A good night’s sleep can go a long ways to a healthier you.
Soy: For some women, a diet rich in soy such as found in tofu and soybeans can help reduce PMS symptoms.
Support: Evidence suggests that joining a group of women who experience PMS symptoms like yours can help enhance treatment.
What Not to Do
While there are many treatments available for PMS symptoms, there are some things just don’t work. These include:
- Sugar and Sweeteners
While PMS suffers do not need to say good bye for good to their morning coffee, cutting back can reduce the symptoms quite a bit.
By working with a doctor, eating healthier and supplementing a diet, many women should be able to lessen or completely eliminate their PMS symptoms.