Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:

  • Cyclic changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
  • Chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
  • Depression. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms.
  • Stress. Stress can aggravate some of your PMS symptoms.
  • Poor eating habits. Some PMS symptoms have been linked to low levels of vitamins and minerals. Other possible contributors to PMS include eating a lot of salty foods, which may cause fluid retention, and drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which may cause mood and energy level disturbances.
Jan. 18, 2012