For some people PMS is a minor monthy irritant – you cry a bit, get a bit bloated and/or feel yourself get a little more irate than normal. It’s annoying but manageable. For others, however, it is nothing short of a nightmare. Symptoms are so severe for such sufferers that it can affect their relationships, marriages and careers, and can even lead to self-harm and suicide. Put simply, it’s a serious issue… and now, at last, it’s being taken seriously.
According to leading doctors, women should be recommended CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) on the NHS if they are diagnosed with severe Pre Menstrual Syndrome. It is believed this approach will be more effective at curbing its symptoms than offering the previously prescribed treatment: medication.
As the National Association of Premenstrual Syndrome states, as many as 150 symptoms have been associated with the condition – from mood swings to depression, anxiety to aggression, tiredness and food cravings – and it is thought to affect roughly 30% of women. Between 5-8% of those women (800,000 in the UK) experience it acutely.
Guidelines released today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advise doctors to suggest CBT ‘as a first line treatment’ to women and girls whose experience of PMS regularly affects their ‘daily activity’.
How can CBT help? Well, it’s a therapy that enables people to manage their problems by altering the way they think and behave. The NHS cites it as an effective method of treating all-manner of mental health conditions, and it is believed it will be beneficial to PMS sufferers experiencing psychological problems such as depression, low self-esteem and anxiety. Vitamin B6 and exercise have also been recommended.
So there we have it; PMS is finally being given the attention – and assistance – it has required for centuries now. What’s next on the agenda?