No Laughing Matter: PMS Takes a Real Toll

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Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS — the three letters men fear when strung together. It’s a syndrome that many people make light of, but for a lot of women, it’s no joking matter. PMS is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle, and according to WomensHealth.govThe American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that at least 85 percent of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. Though most of these women don’t require treatment, premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe extension of PMS, and it affects between 3 percent and 8 percent of women during the years when they are having menstrual periods. Those who suffer from PMDD experience severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension, and the condition can lead to anxiety, severe depression, alcohol abuse, weight issues, caffeine addiction, and lack of a desire to exercise.

Understanding the science behind PMS and PMDD can help disarm the jokes and quips that commonly accompany any mention of the condition, and it’s that information that we’d like to highlight today. The science isn’t changing, but experts are beginning to become more and more aware how serious of an issue PMDD can be, warranting the condition more attention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the difference between PMS and PMDD lies in the emotional and behavioral symptoms women experience in the seven to ten days before their period starts. Though symptoms for both variations of PMS occur around the same time of one’s menstrual cycle, those who suffer PMDD experience more severe sadness or hopelessness, anxiety, extreme moodiness, and/or marked irritability or anger than those who endure PMS-like symptoms. Both PMDD and PMS can cause bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits, but in PMDD, the flagging symptoms are more behavioral.

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