Is your monthly PMS getting on your last nerve?

Pre-menstrual syndrome (known as PMS) is almost a joke condition in today’s society, with people responding to any case of a woman being stressed by stating that she must have PMS. In contrast, however, it is a real disorder that can greatly affect the wellness and wellbeing of many women. Symptoms of PMS include irritability, anxiety, depression and excessive emotional sensitivity. It can also extend to a variety of physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.

Having these types of symptoms occur on a monthly basis can really drag you down, and yet it can be difficult to get a diagnosis for the condition let alone find a suitable course of treatment to help relieve the symptoms.

A recent researcher, Leire Aperribai PhD, from the UPV/EHU University in the Basque country has used her PhD thesis to attempt to fill the gaps in knowledge in this particular medical area. Her main challenge was to define the disorder itself, and for this she referred to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

As such, this manual defines PMS as a mental disorder, which causes real damage to the person in terms of their social and work life and wellness. The manual also points out that the disorder occurs in the luteal phase (between ovulation and menstruation) and disappears when menstruation arrives. It is classed as a ‘non-specific depressive disorder’.

Aperribai used questionnaires to look at the criteria in the manual and found a high percentage of women suffering with the symptoms described there. This indicates that there is a way of diagnosing this medical disorder, and Aperribai argues that the manual definition (where symptoms are listed and five must be identified to produce a diagnosis) provides the basis for a questionnaire which women could complete in order to assess whether they are suffering, and receive appropriate treatment.

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