I wrote about my feelings of depression before my monthly visit from Aunt Flo. Well, the extreme nature of my experience got me to wondering whether it was just PMS or something more. So, I reached out to noted ob/gyn Draion "Dr. Drai" Burch to shed some light on what may be going on with me...and even a few of you. So, read on for more info - it just might change your life! What are the typical symptoms of PMS? Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that occur 1-2 weeks before your period. These symptoms usually disappear when aunt flow starts. Changes in hormones, chemical changes in the brain, low vitamin levels, salty foods, alcohol, caffeine, or stress may be the cause. when you have PMS, your face may break out, feel bloated, have food cravings, be tired, have mood swings, have headaches or trouble sleeping. You may even feel anxious or get depressed. This is super common; 85% of ladies have at least 1 PMS symptom. What would be considered "abnormal" symptoms of PMS? The most severe form of PMS is called PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). Thoughts of suicide, lack of interest in daily activities, feeling out of control, having panic attacks, being anxious, feeling sad are some symptoms. At what point should a woman consider seeking medical treatment for such extreme symptoms? You have to have 5 or more symptoms to be diagnosed with PMDD. If your symptoms are disabling in any way, seek help from your doctor ASAP. What advice would you give to a woman who has been advised to take antidepressants or hormones but is wary of doing so? We know that PMDD is caused by abnormal levels of serotonin in your brain; that's why antidepressants that affect your serotonin levels work. Being on birth control suppresses your own hormones which can prevent PMS symptoms from occurring. Get treated. Beyond medication, what are other ways that women suffering from PMDD can cope better with their symptoms. You must change your lifestyle. Exercise, eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains, no sugar, salt, caffeine, or alcohol, sleep 8 hours, learn to de-stress, and no smoking cigs. Of course. All of the stuff I love. (Well, except cigs.) *sigh* Well, thanks Dr. Drai for sharing your input. If you want to learn more about Dr. Drai, check out his site and his social media channels. In the meantime, can you identify with any of the more extreme symptoms discussed above? Even if not, how do you cope with your monthly symptoms?