The most common signs and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome include:

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

  • Tension or anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Crying spells
  • Mood swings and irritability or anger
  • Appetite changes and food cravings
  • Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor concentration

Physical signs and symptoms

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain related to fluid retention
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Although the list of potential signs and symptoms is long, most women with premenstrual syndrome experience only a few of these problems.

For some women, the physical pain and emotional stress are severe enough to affect their daily routines and activities. Regardless of their severity, though, the signs and symptoms disappear, for most women, as the menstrual period begins.

But a few women with premenstrual syndrome have disabling symptoms every month. This form of PMS has its own designation — premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome with signs and symptoms including severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, irritability and tension. A number of women with severe PMS may have an underlying psychiatric disorder.

When to see a doctor

If you've had no luck managing your premenstrual syndrome with lifestyle changes, and signs and symptoms of PMS are seriously affecting your health and daily activities, see your doctor.

Jan. 18, 2012