Premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual tension has long been recognised in human existence as a frequent and distressing phenomenon for many women, and for those close to them.  We still do not know what causes this condition, which can occur from 1 to 14 days before the onset of a woman’s menstrual bleeding.  However, the effects on the woman and on her family and friends can be very unpleasant and distressing.


The physical symptoms of being premenstrual are distressing enough, such as bloating, weight gain, breast tenderness and acne.  However, it is the psychological changes of being premenstrual which typically cause most distress.  Women affected premenstrually seem to develop a mini version of depressive illness.  They may become very irritable, sad, tearful, and have sleep, appetite and sexual interest changes.  They often have more trouble than usual in concentration and memory.  Very often, even if they are aware of what is happening, women find themselves unable to control these symptoms, and friction erupts between themselves and those close to them, at home or at work.


Various and numerous treatments have been tried in this condition, but the very fact that there are innumerable treatments suggested for the condition confirms that no one treatment has high rates of success.  


One of the most interesting pieces of research in this condition in recent years has been the finding, in research conducted on thousands of women, is thatantidepressants of the SSRI group were by far the most effective treatment for this condition. Indeed, the SSRI can be started on the day of ovulation (day 14 after the first day of bleeding for most women), and stopped 2 weeks later, and still be very effective.


Many women affected by depressive illness notice that their symptoms, which appeared to have been progressively improving at a satisfactory rate, suddenly flare up quite badly when they are premenstrual.  Similarly, many women who are normally quite anxious or perfectionistic find these facets of their makeup are much worse when they are premenstrual, often accompanied by them becoming very irritable.


These various bits of evidence all lend weight to the theory that premenstrual tension is a psychological illness of a mild degree, very prevalent in the community, induced by the hormonal and chemical changes of a woman’s normal monthly reproductive cycle, and with a high rate of response to modern antidepressants.


Other treatments reported to be effective in a minority of women include milddiuretics (medications which cause fluid loss), high dose Vitamin B6 (300mg per day premenstrually, which has to be stopped when the period starts), Evening Primrose Oil, and the oral contraceptive Pill.


Important Disclaimer:  This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.

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