How I Got Rid of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
Q&A: How to Ease PMS
You're crampy, cranky and craving a hot fudge sundae. How do you stop PMS from taking over your life?
The psychiatrist says...
PMS is not only a physical issue, it's also an emotional one, and many women suffer from mood swings, fatigue and irritability. One out of every 20 women has a more severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). For PMS, eating well, exercising and getting a good night's sleep can reduce both the physical and emotional symptoms. But most women with PMDD need more help, and taking antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft during the later half of your menstrual cycle can help tremendously. Bright light treatment (sitting in front of a box that gives off UV light, at home or in the doctor's office) and traditional psychotherapy may also ease PMDD.
Not sure if you've crossed the line from PMS to PMDD? If your symptoms interfere with your daily life, create problems with friends, family and work, or cause severe insomnia or exhaustion, talk to your doctor about treatment. There's no need to spend up to half of every month in sheer misery.
SAMANTHA MELTZER-BRODY, MD, director, Perinatal Psychiatry Program, University of North Carolina Center for Women's Mood Disorders
The nutritionist says...
Step away from the cookies and chips. As much as you may crave them, all that sugar and salt can actually make you feel worse. The sugar bounces your blood sugar levels around (not a good thing for your mood), and salt can make you retain water, adding to any bloating you might have. It's also a good idea to limit caffeine, since it can make soreness in your breasts worse.
So whatshouldyou eat? Fill up on whole-grain or "good" carbs including oats, whole-grain cereals, bread and pasta, because they help regulate levels of serotonin—a chemical produced by your brain that can help improve your mood. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon) can help reduce inflammation, which may in turn lessen cramps. Dark leafy greens have waterandfiber, which means they'll fill you up and reduce your urge to hit the vending machine. Watermelon is also a great snack pick: True to its name, it's 92% water, and the sugar content satisfies your sweet tooth.
ELIZABETH SOMER, RD, author ofEat Your Way to Sexy,Eat Your Way to HappinessandFood & Mood
The gynecologist says...
Take your vitamins.
To help ward off PMS, I recommend that my patients take a combination of vitamin B6(100 to 200 mg), vitamin E (200 to 400 IU) and evening primrose oil (two standard capsules) for the two weeks leading up to their periods. Together, these supplements ease breast tenderness as they help boost your mood and energy. Also consider taking magnesium, a mineral known for its calming effect. One small study found that women who took 360 mg three times a day for the 15 days before they got their periods had less severe PMS-related mood changes. Exercise can also be very powerful. The couch may seem like your best friend at this time of the month, but any aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up will energize you and keep moodiness at a minimum. And more meditative exercise like yoga can help your muscles relax and lessen cramps. Birth control pills, which help regulate your hormone levels, may also relieve cramps.
Video: How to Stop PMS Mood Swings.
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