by Scholten A

Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by physical and emotional symptoms that occur in a regular cycle beginning 1-2 weeks before the onset of menstrual flow and improve when menstrual bleeding starts. These symptoms can be extremely distressing and may include:
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite changes (sugar and/or salt cravings; overeating)
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Muscle pain
Although the symptoms of PMS may vary, the most common complaints are:
  • Irritability
  • Backache
  • Muscle pain
  • Bloating
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), five or more of the following symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of PMDD:
  • Physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness, bloating, and joint pain
  • Severe depression, possibly with suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety, tension, or panic attacks
  • Severe irritability and anger
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Teariness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling out of control
  • Lack of interest in relationships, activities
  • Food cravings or binges

References

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice bulletin: premenstrual syndrome. ACOG. No. 15. April 2000.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. American Psychiatric Association; 2000.

Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome-pms.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Women's Health.gov website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm. Updated May 18, 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.

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