PMS Depression: Singin' the Blues

Depression and PMSPMS (premenstrual syndrome) and depression often go hand in hand. Depression is in fact, one of the most common PMS symptoms. The extent of the depression experienced by women who suffer with PMS can range from simply 'having the blues' for a few days every month, to a true, bleak, black depression of longer duration. In these cases, PMS depression needs to be treated with medication such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil etc.). PMS in which depression is the major or only symptom is often called 'Type D' PMS.

Depression in PMS may be due to a serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter (a natural chemical that delivers signals between the body's nerve cells), low levels of which can affect the neural pathways in the brain in such as way that depression results. Serotonin deficiency is also linked to the carbohydrate cravings typical during PMS. A diet high in complex carbohydrates is therefore advised to help ward off episodes of PMS-related depression.

Depression in PMS is worsened by the fact that levels of endorphins, the body's feel good neurotransmitters, are lowered by estrogen and especially progesterone in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. A decrease in endorphin production during this time will only worsen the blues and any feelings of depression, anxiety or sadness. As well as a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, tyrosine, magnesium and vitamin B6 supplements have been shown to help some women in treating mild to moderate PMS depression. St. John's Wort is also often recommended. Explore these avenues first, but if your PMS depression does not lessen and continues month after month, then it's better to consult with your doctor to explore alternative means to treat this serious symptom of PMS rather that suffering and struggling on alone without help.

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