Dealing with PMS
When I suddenly start feeling like a failure, like I haven’t done enough to make my parents proud, or a feeling of hopelessness that I will not be a good role model for my daughter, or when I feel that I don’t have good friends, I realized I am feeling this because of PMS, because I get these same thoughts for few days for almost many months now, and I don’t remember how it was earlier, maybe I never noticed. I observed that I would start feeling so depressed by these thoughts that I would cut myself off from society and preferred to stay alone for days, and of course I was irritable too. I used to show lack of patience with my daughter. But when I realized that I am getting these thoughts and irritability because of PMS, I decided to deal with it.
I am happy that I can now figure out that these thoughts are coming to my mind because of hormonal activity, I divert my attention into something that takes me away from these thoughts, like watching something interesting on TV or reading, or doing something creative that would let my mind focus on something that makes me feel better.
PMS or Pre Menstrual Syndrome is very common among women, but little is done to help women deal with it. PMS affects women’s social life and work performance. PMS affects women both emotionally and physically. Common emotional symptoms of PMS include irritability, mood swings, sadness, depression and anger. Some common physical symptoms of PMS include tenderness of breasts, muscle or joint pains, stomach bloating or diarrhea and food cravings.
The mood swings and irritability because of hormonal changes that occur a week before a menstrual period can be mild to severe. Many women won’t like to take antidepressants or any other medications for these symptoms and would like to know something that would help them deal with it in a more natural and healthier way.
To find out your own symptoms of PMS, maintain a diary to record changes in your feelings and physical symptoms starting a week to 4 days before the first day of the menstrual cycle. Record your feelings and thoughts. See if these repeat during the next cycle. Also record what you eat and food cravings as this will help in determining how your diet affects the symptoms of PMS.
Women have reported that healthy diets consisting of whole grain foods, soy foods, fruits and vegetables and low fat, and reducing intake of caffeine helped relieving symptoms of PMS.
Calcium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin D and Magnesium are also believed to provide relief from symptoms of PMS and these can be taken as dietary supplements. It is important to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Regular exercise is known to alleviate depression by increasing blood circulation, brain stimulation and creates a sense of overall wellbeing, which is very helpful in relieving signs of PMS.
- Smoking increases risks of depression along with many other health risks, and cessation of smoking helps in reducing signs of PMS.
- A stressful life and lack of support can also increase the severity of the symptoms of PMS and therefore, women should ask for support from their family or workplace.
- Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises help create a positive mindset, which help in relieving stress and also symptoms of PMS.
While going through PMS, it might not strike that the sadness, discomfort or irritability is because of PMS. An effective way is to remain self-observant and keep a track. It is important for you to know that it’s “that” time of the month. If something feels irritating or uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to escape the environment for some time and come back to it when you are relaxed. Educating your spouse or other family members about PMS will help them understand what you are going through and therefore this will help them to be understanding and supportive towards you.
Integrative Women’s Health by Victoria Maizes, MD and Tieraona Low Dog, MD