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Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by physical and emotional symptoms that occur in a regular cycle beginning 1-2 weeks before the onset of menstrual flow and improve when menstrual bleeding starts. These symptoms can be extremely distressing and may include:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite changes (sugar and/or salt cravings; overeating)
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Muscle pain

Although the symptoms of PMS may vary, the most common complaints are:

  • Irritability
  • Backache
  • Muscle pain
  • Bloating

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 5 or more of the following symptoms must be present for a diagnosis of PMDD:

  • Physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness, bloating, and joint pain
  • Severe depression, possibly with suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety, tension, or panic attacks
  • Severe irritability and anger
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Teariness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling out of control
  • Lack of interest in relationships, activities
  • Food cravings or binges

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: James Cornell, MD
  • Update Date: 08/18/2016 -
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

  • Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 9, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2016.

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome-pms.html. Updated April 2014. Accessed August 18, 2016.

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.html. Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2016.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Parkridge Health System does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.