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The woman in the grip of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) has been the butt of many jokes. She is seen as a screaming witch, an out-of-control harpy.
To some this is hilarious. To the women who suffer extreme PMS symptoms, and the people around them, it's no joke.
In the arena of fertile women, about 75 percent of them also live with some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome ranging from mild to excruciating.
About 1 out of every 20 women are hit with such extreme symptoms that they have moved up to premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. This condition is accompanied by anger, agressiveness, depression and pain.
The fact that it only happens for a week to two weeks each month is little consolation. Looking ahead to years of this every month can add to the depression.
Premenstrual syndrome happens during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. Food cravings can get stirred up to a feverish pitch.
Your ability to control what you eat may seem to fly straight out the window every month. This chaotic state of affairs is the result of duelling hormones, specifically the sex hormone estrogen and the stress hormone cortisol.
Serotonin levels can plummet, which means your feel-good neurotransmitter levels are in the basement. It's enough to send you to the kitchen for solace.
This is in part because low serotonin equals high carbohydrate cravings, in an effort to manufacture more serotonin.
You can eat all the cake, chips and chocolate in the house or you can try to bring balance in healthier ways. There are some things you can do which may help to curb or eliminate your PMS symptoms.
If you have to have the carbs, go for complex carbohydrates, to avoid the unstable glucose levels that can enhance mood swings. Drinking plenty of water decreases bloating.
Supplements of calcium, magnesium and vitamin B complex can ease symptoms. Primrose oil is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory supplement that can relieve pain, inflammation, cramping and sore breasts.
The increase in endorphins that occurs during exercise can enhance your serotonin levels which elevates mood, and can also reduce cramping.