What is PMS?
The term PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is used to describe a physical and mental symptoms which occur before a period. The term PMT or Premenstrual Tension usually refers only to emotional changes. PMS didn’t become a major popular concern until the 1960s and 1970s with the growth of feminism. For a long while it was generally referred as premenstrual tension PMT, but in the 1980’s the term premenstrual syndrome PMS became widespread, reflecting the fact that the condition can be physical and mental.
What causes PMS?
The exact cause of PMS has not yet to being identified, and while some experts attribute them to hormonal imbalance, others argue that and imbalance in brain chemicals is more likely the cause. Patterns of PMS
- Symptoms begin the week before your period and recede during your period.
- Symptoms start around the time of ovulation and persist until your period starts, that is, for about two weeks.
The Brain – Body Connection:
Open to the most popular current hypothesis is that the origins of PMS may lie not in the reproductive system at all, but in the brain. According to this theory, if you have PMS your brain circuitry may be wired in such a way as to render you hypersensitive to normal fluctuations in your own hormones. This makes a lot of sense in the light of the fact that most women with PMS are otherwise perfectly healthy. Researchers investigating the chemicals in the brain, as neurotransmitters and neural pathways, which transmit messages from one nerve cell to another, have found that these chemicals behave differently in women with PMS. They surmise that in women who are sensitive to, cyclical changes in levels of progesterone and estrogen alter the behavior of these chemicals, leading to symptoms of PMS
The serotonin factor.
One of the most important of these brain chemicals is serotonin, sometimes known as the happiness hormone because of its role in controlling mood. Low serotonin levels are linked to carvings for starchy foods
- Sleep disorders.
- All symptoms familiar to sufferers of PMS.
Other hormones and brain chemicals.
Researchers are also beginning to look at other hormones and brain chemicals that may behave in a faulty way.
One of these is a pituitary hormone called prolactin, sometimes known as the mothering hormone for its role in the development of breast tissue and the production of milk during breastfeeding. Prolactin operates in a feedback loop with progesterone, one of the two key female hormones.
Other suspects include a group of neurotransmitters called catecholamine. These include compounds such as noradrenalin, a brain chemical involved in the stress response. High levels of noradrenalin in the brain cause a feeling of elation and low levels cause depression.
Another is dopamine, which affects brain processes that control movement, our emotional response and the ability to experience pleasure or pain.
Another suggestion is that falling levels of progesterone by-products in the blood act on the receptor for another neurotransmitter called gamma-amino butyric acid or GABA. This blocks the action of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain, causing anxiety, panic attacks and aggression.