It is widely accepted that the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone levels that occurs during a woman's menstrual cycle causes premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and mood swings. However, it remains unclear exactly why some women experience more severe and longer-lasting PMS symptoms than others.
Researchers suspect, however, that diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits have a significant impact on hormonal balance and account for at least part of the variance in symptoms. Nearly 40% of women experience PMS symptoms every month, the most common manifestation being mood swings. This symptom is characterized by the abrupt changes in emotional state it triggers.
What Causes Mood Swings and PMS?
PMS and the mood swings it leads to are generally triggered by hormonal imbalance. This is because in order to begin a period, levels of estrogen and progesterone drop. This temporary decrease signals the uterine lining to shed. Although it is a natural and common process, some women are significantly affected by their changing hormone levels and should seek medical help.
What Medications Are Available?
In the past, women were given a variety of tranquilizers and sedatives intended to calm mood swing episodes. In more recent years, however, progesterone has been prescribed in order to counteract rising estrogen levels.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are also given to help with the general pain and discomfort that women with PMS can experience.
Gonadotropin is another medication that helps women deal with PMS-related mood swings. Unfortunately, the drug can affect bone density and consequently should not be taken for periods longer than six months.
Antidepressants have also been prescribed to women who suffer from severe mood swings and depression related to the chemical imbalance of sex hormones and neurotransmitters.
While all these medications are effective, they cannot be taken for extended periods because of their potentially serious side effects.
What Is the Difference between the Treatments?
The difference between treatments for mood swings varies depending on personal circumstance. While some women are comfortable with just taking ibuprofen to relieve pain and mood swings, women who experience more severe mood swings and other PMS symptoms usually require a stronger hormonal drug that will also combat changes in hormone levels.
In short, there are lots of different drugs available for the treatment of varying PMS symptoms. While hormonal drugs are used effectively to relieve symptoms, it is important to bear in mind that they carry side effect that may outweigh potential benefits.
Today, many women find that mood swings are best dealt with via a combination of healthy lifestyle adjustments and alternative treatments.
- The Health Center.(n.d)."Adult Mood Swings". Retrieved from www.thehealthcenter.info.
- Dr. Love, Susan, and Karen Lindsey. Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- Amin, Z., Turhan Canli, and C. Neill Epperson. (2005). "Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition". Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Review, 4, 43.
- Molecular Psychiatry.(n.d)."Estrogen Promotes Gender Difference in Brain's Response to Stress". Retrieved from www.psycheducation.org.