Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is an enigmatic problem that affects somewhere between 40% and 60% of women in the childbearing ages. It has been estimated that 50 million women suffer from PMS monthly. PMS occurs in women from 14 years of age to 50 years of age, however, it generally is most likely to be recognized and treated in the 25 to 35-age group.
While there is a host of theories regarding the cause of PMS, including that of a hormonal (estrogen/progesterone) imbalance, vitamin-mineral deficiency syndrome, receptor site problems, FSH-RH/LH-RH imbalance syndrome, even beliefs that it is either a psychiatric syndrome or that it is "entirely in the woman's head." On the other hand, most knowledgeable health practitioners, agree that the symptoms are not only real, but often debilitating, destructive and personally frustrating. A 1989 study suggested that PMS costs American industry more than 5 billion dollars each year and concludes that, "It isn't going to get better until the medical profession does something about it."
PMS clearly affects the nervous system and often changes psychological harmony and balance. One of the most frustrating problems PMS women face is extemely labile and often wild sudden uncontrollable swings in mood and emotion. At times they can create major problems in their life.
In any given cycle a typical PMS sufferer may find herself severely depressed, even apathetic and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, find herself angry, and even manic. This sudden alteration in mood may throw her from one state to another shattering her and confusing her entire family.
It is not unusual for husbands to literally drag their wives into our office telling us to "fix her or I am going to get a divorce." During these periods' women will abuse their children physically, emotionally and verbally. The will berate their husbands or boyfriends, family members and even their employers.
Ms. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde Syndrome
As one woman put it, "I just can't take being a Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde any more. When I am depressed I either want to kill myself or I binge unmercifully. When I am up even the littlest of things, can set me off and change me into a raging beast. One minute I am normal, the next minute I am depressed and then without warning, I am out of control striking out at everyone and everything around me. At times it gets so bad that I become consumed with anger, rage and hostility. I just cannot live this way anymore."
While this is an extreme reaction, it is also not unusual. The average PMS woman will in the earliest stages of her PMS suffer only mild mood swings, but as time passes and the vitamin/nutrient/hormonal imbalance increases and the dietary problems are not checked the symptoms often worsen and create bigger and bigger problem in her life.
Looking For Help
Often these PMS women may seek psychological therapy. Unfortunately, they are not likely to get the results they desire. The cyclic changes created by PMS can cause conflicts with self-image, self-value, relationship problems, difficulty dealing with their children and even their job. Often by the time they look for help they have multiple problems. Frequently they seek professionals to help them who know nothing about PMS. And when they do "specialize in PMS" they are more than likely going to treat them with drugs, progesterone or psychotherapy none of which solve the problem, because none of them treat the root cause, the dietary vitamin/mineral deficiency syndrome which is causing their problems.
Often the psychotherapist, marriage and family counselor or psychologist will try to help, but they often consider PMS to be a medical problem and ultimately refer the woman to a medical doctor. Many of these women will go to see their Obstetrician-Gynecologists expecting that he or she will know exactly what to do. Often this is not the case at all. Others will go to see their Family doctor, or their General Medical doctor or even their family Internist. While some medical doctors know what to do, most of the others are less interested or knowledgeable may only tell the woman that her symptoms are, "all in her head."
If she is lucky, she may find a doctor that knows exactly what to do. Her doctor may be aware that PMS is a nutritional deficiency syndrome and suggest to her dietary changes that will help her to eliminate her symptoms. A less well trained doctor may treat her with natural progesterone creams or suppositories. While this may provide some relief, it is often messy and expensive. Frequently, it just plain doesn't work.
If she is less lucky, she will be given a prescription for a diuretic, a tranquilizer, a mood elevator, an antidepressant, an anti-inflammatory agent or even birth control pills. These medications may temporarily help her relieve symptoms, but they do not treat the underlying cause of her problem. Often her PMS may worsen and over time, she may even end up with menstrual irregularities and return of her PMS. Some physicians do nothing, but give women preprinted diets and tell them to exercise more.
PMS and the Medical Profession
PMS has significantly impacted the medical profession and the way women receive health care. More and more women are feeling that their doctors "don't have the time, interest or skill to treat them." Doctors, on the other hand, often feel that women too often exaggerate their symptoms, that they are too emotional about them and that they (the physicians, that is) have much more serious problems to deal with. Since PMS is a completely treatable entity, requiring multiple visits for regulation of medication to multiple specialists, without meaningful resolution is both costly and wasteful.
Many Physicians treat PMS women symptomatically. They give them diuretics for their swelling, mood elevators and antidepressants for their depression, tranquilizers for their irritability, sleeping pills for their insomnia and appetite suppressants for their "weight gain." The woman may be referred for psychotherapy to treat her loss of self-value, diminished self-image. She may be referred to a Marriage and Family counselor for her marital and relationship problems. Some women may find themselves referred for biofeedback to treat their stress and tension. Or she may be told to take her children in for counseling, if they are acting out in response to her PMS and erratic behavior.
On occasion a physician may call family services and report the woman for child abuse, believing that she is dangerous and that her children need to be protected. Often an accurate diagnosis of PMS is never made and none of these interventions are successful. She may lose her marriage, her job, her children and ultimately all that she values in life all because the wrong diagnosis is made and she is denied the right help.
PMS and Bad Press
Many doctors and therapists have negative feelings and beliefs about PMS. They may have extensive backgrounds as physicians, mental health, or counseling emotional problems but they may have faulty ideas which bias their perspective about PMS. One of the problems with PMS was that in the early 1970's Dr. Katerina Dalton publicized a number of cases of PMS where women either killed their husbands or committed serious crimes including child abuse and arson. Later several studies were published which described nymphomania in teenagers who suffered from PMS. In the early years when doctors first began to learn about PMS, most of the information they were exposed to were very dramatic and sensational. This primarily focused attention on the extreme problems and negative aspects or and the legal problems associated with PMS. This negativity affected many doctors and persuaded them to avoid PMS as plague. At the same time it also affects many women negatively suggesting that discussing PMS with anyone, even their doctor, was something to be avoided. If you suffered from PMS, this was something they should be ashamed about.
The Truth About PMS
PMS is really not a medical condition. It is certainly not a psychiatric condition. It is a nutritional dietary deficiency problem and in our society unfortunately this is in the purview of the medical profession.
The symptoms and problems caused by PMS are rarely dramatic. Generally, they are quite subtle. Often they are indistinguishable from many other symptoms and problems which woman may suffer from which are bona fide medical problems.
Many women still turn away from the medical profession and getting help. They may be fearful of admitting the have PMS or they may not recognize the symptoms and be unaware that the symptoms they experience are caused by PMS. Many women ultimately turn to illicit drugs and drugs alcohol for immediate symptom relief, "to calm their shattered nerves."
Since it is quite clear that PMS is a vitamin-mineral deficiency syndrome, it should be treated that way. Since few medical doctors have any experience or training in nutrition, it should be treated only by physicians who have taken the time and effort to become trained in recognizing and treating PMS through education and proper diet.
As a nutritional problem it can be entirely eliminated by replacement of specific nutrients that are deficient and by eliminating those foods and nutrients which adversely affect estrogen metabolism.
Treatment requires not just prescription of a diet, nor just vitamin-mineral supplements, but rather a strategy that allows the woman to become symptoms free easily and quickly and to be able to remain symptom free indefinitely.
The complete resolution of PMS presents two problems. First, the women who suffer from PMS often know little or nothing about their body's, their diets and PMS itself.
Secondly, most PMS women have constructed significant emotional and psychological problems around their PMS. They have unresolved anger, hostility, they often (and possibly appropriately) distrust the medial profession. Frequently they even distrust themselves. Often they have biases about their diet, so that they are resistant to making some of the more important dietary modifications. On occasion they also have resistance to solving the life problems that surround their PMS, cause them to abuse alcohol or drugs.
Often they are also "stressed out" by the whole experience, their PMS and often by life itself.
There are of course, psychological and emotional problems which are not related to PMS. Stress tends to potentiate and worsen PMS. In a sense, it becomes like a dog chasing its tail, the greater their problems with PMS, the worse the PMS becomes. The worse the PMS becomes the greater the problems associated with it.
The cycle must be broken. While you may have a great deal of interest and information about PMS, and may even really want to solve all of your emotional and psychological problems, you may not have the time, background or skills to eliminate your PMS on your own. You can however, find and work with a competent practitioner who has the skills, the dietary program and the experience to teach you how to eliminate your PMS. We are interested in helping you to help yourself to solve your PMS-related physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual problems.
If you would like more information about our Metamorphosis On-Line PMS Counseling program feel free to contact us and we will be happy to work with you.
If you are unsure whether you have PMS, we recommend you take a few minutes and download our PMS Self Evaluation Test.
To read Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), click here.
To read PMS - An Introduction, click here.
To read PMS Fact Sheet, click here.
To get your PMS Self Evaluation Questionnaire (PEQ), click here.
To read PMS and Your Diet, click here.
To read PMS and the Family, click here.
To read PMS and Pregnancy, click here
To read PMS and Fibrocystic Breast Disease, click here.
To read PMS and Birth Control Pills, click here.
To get your book A Guide to Symptoms Relief, click here.
To purchase 30-Days to No More PMS, click here.
To read Personal PMS Diary, click here.
To read PMS Management Form click here.
More articles by this author