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PMS Isn't a Myth: The Effects of PMS on Women's Mental Health

June 21, 20233 min read

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a widely recognised condition that affects many women worldwide. Despite its prevalence, PMS is often dismissed or trivialised, leading to misconceptions and misunderstandings. However, it is crucial to understand that PMS is not a myth; it is a real and significant health issue that can have profound effects on women's mental health. In this article, I will explore the impact of PMS on women's well-being and shed light on the importance of recognising and addressing this condition.

Premenstrual syndrome refers to a combination of emotional, physical, and behavioural symptoms that occur in the days or weeks leading up to menstruation. These symptoms can vary widely between individuals but commonly include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, and food cravings. While the exact cause of PMS is still unclear, hormonal fluctuations, such as changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, are believed to play a significant role.

The Effects of PMS on Mental Health

  1. Mood and Emotional Changes: One of the most common symptoms of PMS is mood swings. Women may experience heightened irritability, sensitivity, or sadness, which can impact their relationships, work productivity, and overall well-being. These emotional changes are not mere exaggerations but are a result of hormonal imbalances affecting neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is closely linked to mood regulation.

  2. Anxiety and Depression: PMS can exacerbate underlying anxiety or depression disorders, or it can lead to the onset of these conditions in women who were previously unaffected. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can disrupt the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, triggering or intensifying symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  3. Cognitive Function: Some women may also experience cognitive changes during PMS, commonly referred to as "brain fog." This includes difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making. These cognitive impairments can affect academic or professional performance and increase feelings of frustration or self-doubt.

  4. Sleep Disturbances: PMS can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or excessive sleepiness. Lack of quality sleep can further exacerbate emotional and cognitive symptoms, making it challenging for women to cope with daily responsibilities and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  5. Interpersonal Relationships: The emotional and behavioural symptoms associated with PMS can strain personal relationships, particularly when partners, family members, or friends are unaware or dismissive of the condition. Communication breakdowns, conflicts, and increased stress levels are not uncommon, which can further contribute to a woman's mental distress during this time.

Managing PMS and Supporting Mental Well-being

Recognising the impact of PMS on women's mental health is vital in order to promote understanding, empathy, and effective management strategies. Here are some approaches that can help:

  1. Self-Care: Engaging in self-care practices like regular exercise, healthy eating, stress management techniques (e.g., meditation, deep breathing), and adequate sleep can mitigate PMS symptoms and support overall mental well-being.

  2. Tracking and Awareness: Keeping track of the menstrual cycle and noting the timing and intensity of symptoms can provide valuable insights and help women anticipate and manage PMS effectively. Numerous apps and tools are available to facilitate this process.

  3. Medical Support: For severe or debilitating symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice. Healthcare professionals can offer various treatment options, including lifestyle modifications, hormonal therapies, and counselling, tailored to individual needs.

  4. Open Communication: Creating an open and understanding environment where women feel comfortable discussing their experiences can significantly reduce the stigma surrounding PMS. Partners, friends, and family members can provide invaluable support by listening empathetically and offering assistance when needed.

Premenstrual syndrome is a real and significant health issue that affects many women worldwide. Its impact on mental health should not be undermined or dismissed. By recognising and understanding the effects of PMS, we can provide support, empathy, and effective management strategies to improve the well-being of women. It is time to debunk the myths surrounding PMS and foster a society that respects and addresses the challenges faced by women during this natural phase of their lives. You are not alone!

Tati Silva

I am a qualified Psychotherapist and Counsellor, working with people going through challenging times in their lives.

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