Are my mood swings and headaches premenopausal symptoms? I'm only 37!
BY: Jennifer Viegas
Don't worry, your symptoms are perfectly normal, and your sister's not crazy. As most people know, it's not uncommon for mood swings, headaches and a host of other symptoms to be linked to a woman's menstrual cycle. This is usually referred to as PMS (premenstrual syndrome). What's more, some women report that the closer they get to menopause, the worse their PMS symptoms get, reports Ellen Freeman, Ph.D., director of the PMS research program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. So while "premenopausal" isn't the best way to describe your symptoms, this is probably all your sister meant by it.
The good news is that while PMS symptoms may increase as you get older, Dr. Freeman's research has found that they "are likely to diminish around menopause and disappear altogether after menopause," she says.
In the meantime, simple lifestyle changes may provide relief if symptoms are mild. Dr. Freeman suggests deep breathing exercises, yoga, limiting alcohol and caffeine and eating a diet high in complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice and whole grain breads and pastas. If that doesn't do the trick, talk to your doctor about medication. Headaches often respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For tougher migraines, your doctor may offer one of the newer prescription "triptan" drugs. If mood swings are severe, a prescription antidepressant may help. While it can be frustrating when PMS symptoms get worse, relief is available and, best of all, they won't last forever.
Tags: diet , grains , health , nutrient-rich , vegetables , vitamins & nutrients , wellness , whole grain
Jennifer Viegas, contributing writer to Live Right Live Well, has covered health, food and fitness for ABC News, Discovery online, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Knight Ridder newspapers. The author of more than 20 books, she is also a James Beard Award nominee.