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Monday, 5 February, 2001, 11:02 GMT
PMS sufferers 'consider suicide'
Depressed woman
Many women suffer badly with PMS
The pain and misery of pre-menstrual syndrome can be so bad that 50% of women who suffer from the problem have considered suicide, research has found.

A study for the Women's Nutritional Advisory Service (WNAS) found that more than eight out of 10 PMS sufferers feel violent and aggressive for up to two weeks before their periods.


It seems bizarre to think the only thing conventional medicine has to offer would result in either a permanent state of zombyism or having a premature menopause

Maryon Stewart, Women's Nutritional Advisory Service
Most sufferers feel depressed, and eight out of ten said PMS had affected their relationship with their partner.

The survey indicates that more women now suffer from PMS than five years ago.

The WNAS says that doctors are failing to treat sufferers effectively.

In some cases they are merely offering powerful anti-depressants such as Prozac, or advising women to have a hysterectomy.

Up to 40% of women seek medical help for PMS symptoms.

However, it is thought that many others simply suffer in silence.

Time off work

Between 2% and 4% are forced to take up to two days off work every month because of the severity of their symptoms.

The WNAS survey of 400 women with mild to severe PMS follows similar studies conducted in 1985 and 1996.

The new study found:

  • 57% of sufferers have contemplated suicide - a rise of 7% on 1996
  • 97% have mood swings
  • 94% suffer from anxiety
  • 92% feel depressed
  • 84% feel violent and aggressive
  • 73% of women suffer from loss of libido - an increase of 13% from five years ago
Maryon Stewart, founder of the WNAS, said many doctors were simply not providing adequate care.

She said: "It seems bizarre in the extreme to think that at a time when we can send women to the moon and clone new organs, the only thing conventional medicine has to offer would result in either a permanent state of zombyism or having a premature menopause and the increased risks of osteoporosis and heart disease accompanying that scenario."

The WNAS offers a programme that claims to alleviate the symptoms of PMS by changes in diet, nutritional supplements and an exercise and relaxation regime.

Symptoms

As well as psychological symptoms, PMS is associated with a range of physical symptoms including: bloating, breast tenderness, swelling of feet and ankles, fluid retention and weight gain, headaches, food cravings, acne, low energy, palpitations, dizziness, and backaches or muscle pain.

Many researchers believe that PMS symptoms are related to cyclic fluctuations in the level of the female sex hormones during the menstrual cycle.

However, other researchers have suggested that PMS may be related to hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar), hypothyroidism (abnormally low levels of thyroid hormones) or a dietary deficiency of B vitamins, calcium or magnesium.

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See also:

21 May 99 | Medical notes
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
08 Nov 00 | Health
'Two-thirds of women have PMS'
29 Sep 00 | Health
GPs seize on Prozac to treat PMS
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