Why Women Get PMS And Why Some Are More Affected

health

Why Women Get PMS And Why Some Are More AffectedUp to 80% of women experience PMS.

Women have been menstruating throughout history. So it’s curious the earliest documented record of what we now know to be premenstrual syndrome (PMS) appeared pretty late in the game. In 1931, psychoanalyst Karen Horney described increased tension, irritability, depression and anxiety in the week preceding menstruation in one of her patients.

Now it’s generally accepted up to 80% of women in their reproductive years experience some PMS. The condition includes symptoms such as fatigue, poor coordination, feeling out of control, feeling worthless and guilty, headache, anxiety, tension, aches, irritability, mood swings, weight gain, food cravings, no interest in usual activities, cramps, feeling sad or depressed, breast tenderness, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating.

Premenstrual syndrome is different to premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is rarer (only 3-5% of women of reproductive age experience it) and is listed in the diagnostic manual of mental disorders. People who experience PMDD have severe depression which is often accompanied by suicidal thoughts. Their onset and offset usually coincide with the premenstrual cycle. Unlike PMS, the severely depressed mood of PMDD usually comes on suddenly.

Reproductive hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – are also potent brain hormones. They influence the brain chemicals responsible for our thoughts, behaviours and emotions. Their amounts fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, so the connection between them and mental health is clear. And we are learning more about why some women may be more affected than others.

Brain chemicals and PMS

There is no single clear theory yet to explain exactly which hormones trigger particular chemicals or why only some women experience PMDD or PMS.

But we know some women are susceptible to mood changes due to small fluctuations in reproductive hormones. In these vulnerable women, small changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels lead to shifts in central brain chemicals (GABA, serotonin and dopamine) that then affects mood and behaviour.

At the same time, many of the physical PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, headaches and constipation are a direct effect of reproductive hormones. So both mind and body are affected.

Why Women Get PMS And Why Some Are More AffectedHormonal changes before menstruation affect both the body and mind. from shutterstock.com

Oestrogen appears to be a “protective” hormone, which can improve psychotic symptoms (such as those common in schizophrenia) as well as depression. Oestrogen directly influences the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine to achieve this positive effect.

So depression and other adverse mental symptoms can appear or worsen during phases when oestrogen is low. This happens during the four to seven days before menstruation, and during the transition into menopause.

Progesterones can have the opposite effect. Many women who take a progesterone-only contraceptive pill (the mini-pill) experience depression. There are certain types of progesterone in the combined oral contraceptive pill that can be very depressive.

What about the more severe symptoms?

Recent work suggests PMDD is the result of brain neurochemicals responding in unusual ways to fluctuations in brain oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, as well as the hormones released by the pituitary gland that determine the levels and fluctuations of these reproductive hormones.

Other studies about the cause of PMDD reveal that a breakdown product of progesterone – called allopregnanolone (ALLO) – is a critical stimulator of a receptor on a part of the GABA transmitter. When stimulated, the GABA system can alleviate anxiety. Benzodiazepine drugs like diazepam (Valium) stimulate the GABA system and help to calm down agitation.

In this way, ALLO works as an “anti-anxiety” hormone. Just like oestrogen, progesterone levels (and its metabolite ALLO levels) fall in the premenstrual phase.

Women who have PMDD are often agitated, anxious and depressed during the premenstrual phase. A newer theory is that their brain chemistry isn’t reacting normally to ALLO, so they become anxious. This is important to explore further and already new drugs that impact ALLO are being developed and tested.

PMDD is complex, like many mental health conditions, and there is an interplay between psychological and social issues as well as hormonal and neurochemical factors. Tertiary education, supportive relationships, fewer socioeconomic struggles and good physical health appear to be helpful, but do not mitigate PMDD completely. Overall, PMDD appears to be biologically driven.

How can we treat it?

Understanding the body-mind connections in both PMS and PMDD is critical for developing effective management strategies for the many women who suffer from significant depression and other issues every month.

Management options need to consider all aspects of the woman’s life including her work, relationships, past traumas, current physical health and daily demands. Many women experiencing PMDD require hormone treatment and other strategies such as antidepressant medication to help them improve their quality of life.

It’s a good idea for women experiencing PMDD or PMS to keep a diary of their cycles and moods. Women can be reassured their observations connecting hormones and moods are valid. It is important women with PMS/PMDD seek help from health professionals who will explore specific targeted treatments with them. Above all, it is important to recognise the links between hormones and mental health.The Conversation

About The Author

Jayashri Kulkarni, Professor of Psychiatry, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

The Nature of a Woman: Navigating Her 4 Week Mood Cycle Workbook

healthAuthor: Gary P Simmons
Binding: Paperback
Creator(s):
  • Christine Harpley

Studio: Smasy Publishing
Label: Smasy Publishing
Publisher: Smasy Publishing
Manufacturer: Smasy Publishing

Buy Now
Editorial Review: This workbook has been designed to be used in conjunction with the 'Nature of a Woman: Navigating Her 4 week Mood Cycle' book and audiobook. It’s relationship help for men who are married to a woman and ready to take the next step in actually implementing the lessons that were discussed in the book and audiobook. If used correctly, this workbook can even be instrumental in saving a marriage. The Nature of a Woman: Workbook, is practical help for men who are serious about either turning around an unhappy marriage by improving and developing their relationship or who just want to live with a happy wife. As well as being a tool for men so they may learn what they need to do to assure that their partner feels loved, appreciated and secure throughout each phase of her 4 week mood cycle, this workbook also contains specific relationship advice for men, to help them develop, as well as maintain a loving relationship, that they - and their partner dreamed about, when they first got together. Tags: happy wife, advice for men, relationship advice for men, wife and marriage, married to a woman, crazy wife, nagging wife, men and marriage, wife is angry, wife is mean, wife mood, PMS




The Nature of a Woman: Navigating Her 4 Week Mood Cycle (Survival Skills for Men)

healthAuthor: Gary P Simmons
Binding: Paperback
Creator(s):
  • Christine Harpley

Studio: Smasy Publishing
Label: Smasy Publishing
Publisher: Smasy Publishing
Manufacturer: Smasy Publishing

Buy Now
Editorial Review: This book contains a lot of clear and practical advice for men who feel they have an unhappy marriage and could do with some relationship help. At age 45, Gary P. Simmons had left countless failed relationships in his wake. He thought that he was never going to find ‘the one’, a partner to share his life with. And then one day, ‘SHE’ walked through the door. At last… things were great! That was until after a few months of dating, when a casual conversation deteriorated into an argument, where she said, “this relationship doesn’t work for me. It’s over!” Then, a few days later she wanted him back. In shock and confused as to why his partner’s feelings for him were so erratic, he was once again faced with the familiar pain of being misunderstood, disrespected and frustrated. Gary knew from his early career, working with men in dockyards, mining camps, and the oil industry, that the guys who blamed their partners for failed relationships, who said they have a “crazy wife” or a “nagging wife”, were the men who became bitter, angry, resentful… and lonely. There didn’t seem to be much advice for men on this issue out there, so Gary decided it was time to do some serious research of his own, as well as some soul searching, to find out what was really going on and why his relationships were so difficult. Eventually, he made an incredible discovery about women which he realized the vast majority of men had no idea about. Gary knew this research could also be helpful to other men who were committed to saving a marriage. ‘The Nature of a Woman’ is real and it’s biological. It’s also obvious when you know what you’re looking for (as long as your committed to having a loving wife). Now a happy husband whose been married for over 10 years, Gary reveals the key to being in a successful long-term relationship. There’s no fluff in this book. It’s plain and simple and full of down to earth relationship advice for men who are married to a woman, who genuinely want to learn skills that can be applied to help make a partnership loving and harmonious. It’s clear from this book that Gary respects and relates to both men and women and that his intention is to help keep couples and families together. He says “my aim is to inspire couples to be invested in saving a marriage, rather than walking away, if things are not going as well as they could be at home”. Although this transformational book has been written for men, it’s also a book that women want their partner to read because it helps to inspire guys to choose to become the type of man that women respect, admire and need. For more information about the book go to: TheNatureOfaWoman.com Tags: happy wife, advice for men, relationship advice for men, wife and marriage, married to a woman, crazy wife, nagging wife, men and marriage, wife is angry, wife is mean, wife mood, PMS




You are not Crazy... It's Your Hormones: Why You Gain Weight, Get Cellulite, Suffer Menopause, PMS and Other Puzzling Health Changes by Belinda; Sher, Brian Orgo (2005-05-03)

healthAuthor: Belinda; Sher, Brian Orgo
Binding: Paperback
Studio: Redwood Publishing
Label: Redwood Publishing
Publisher: Redwood Publishing
Manufacturer: Redwood Publishing

Buy Now



health
enafarzh-CNzh-TWtlfrdehiiditjamsptrues

follow InnerSelf on

google-plus-iconfacebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

follow InnerSelf on

google-plus-iconfacebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}