Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), identifies a range of physical and emotional symptoms that women can experience prior to their menstruation period. About 90% of women experience some form of PMS symptoms every month, with an array of something like two hundred symptoms. (Source: Health Huffpost “Here is everything women (AND men) should know about PMS.”2017). No two women experience PMS in exactly the same way. Symptom severity can vary to include skin outbreaks, tender breasts, bloating, fatigue, poor sleep, loss of libido, increased irritability and mood changes. The symptoms usually resolve on the onset of the menses. The time frame for feeling like this can be from a couple of weeks to several days prior to a women’s period, and life can be impacted. Some women claim they “turn into a totally different person; one who is hard to live with.” Such mood swings and an increase in anxiety and depression for a woman can make it hard for her to be her at this time.

PMS: The Emotional Rollercoaster

Physical manifestations of premenstrual syndrome including achiness, fatigue, headaches, and bloating may be manageable with medication, diet, and exercise, but the emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome might be harder to manage. The cause of PMS seems to be elusive for researchers with some claiming that PMS doesn’t exist! There is some medical consensus that it is related to hormonal change. Some of the emotional symptoms include:

  • Constant mood swings ranging from feelings of depression, irritability, or anger.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, which causes extreme sensitivity, anxiety, and withdrawal from situations that you would otherwise be “used to.”

While these symptoms can be negotiated from time to time, it’s when these symptoms start affecting your life in a disruptive way that they may have to be mediated. The most severe form of PMS is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), affecting up to 8% of the female population and presents with more of the intense psychological vulnerability of mood instability. When symptoms start interfering with your daily life, it is time to seek professional help to deal with it. You don’t need to suffer.

What Treatments Work?

Checking in with your GP and discussing pharmacological support is a good place to start. But first line treatment intervention outside of your doctor’s office is of course lifestyle. Check out your diet and ask how can I be eating more healthy? Starting with eliminating salt and caffeine pre-menstrually, increasing movement and exercise and working on stress reduction will make a difference. A focus on self-care is optimum.

How does counselling work for PMS?

If your therapist introduces cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) it will be to help you manage your mood swings attached to depression and anxiety. Cognitive therapy is a treatment method that is often used to deal with anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns that are commonly associated with PMS and PMDD. In fact, researchers believe that cognitive behavioural therapy may help women understand and cope with how changes in their hormones can affect their behavior, mood, and thinking throughout the menstrual cycle.

The emphasis is learning how to handle negative thought processes by identifying and understanding them and the situations and patterns that elicit them. The focus is then to implement strategies on how to deal with them.

Your therapist may also introduce progressive relaxation and mindfulness techniques that help stress reduction. Stopping and grounding in your present moment whilst doing “belly breathing” is a life technique, that is part of our “mood shifting” programme.

Direct Focus Solutions: Tackling Your Concerns With Multiple Disciplines

Our team at Direct Focus Solutions uses a multidisciplinary approach from our allied health team to form collaborative care for our clients. You can have the opportunity to chat with a dietician, have some mood movement from the OT and cognitive work from your counsellor. Techniques we use include psychotherapy , counselling, biofeedback training, performance enhancement, to tailor an individual treatment program just for your needs.

Please contact us for more information.

Our PMS Practitioners

Michelle Fox

Michelle is a Senior Psychologist with experience in treating depression and anxiety, mending relationships, and has a strong focus on building self-esteem. She has a broad range of experiences in dealing with workplace issues, conflict resolution and counselling.

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