Women with extreme PMS will now be offered free psychotherapy

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Women who suffer from extreme PMS will be offered free psychological therapy on the NHS, off the back of new recommendations from senior doctors.

Guidelines advise that women who experience PMS severe enough to affect her “daily functioning”, interfering with her work or relationships, will be offered a free course of cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT involves talking to a therapist and putting in place practical psychological mechanisms to deal with problems which have become overwhelming. Usually the sessions have extremely long waiting lists and can cost up to £100 a session.

40 per cent of women experience depression, anxiety, irritability, low confidence and mood-swings in the lead up to their period, with five per cent reporting symptoms so extreme that it can lead to marriage breakdown, unemployment, self-harm and suicide. Previously women were often prescribed anti-depressants or a continuous contraceptive pill to stop their period. In extreme circumstances some even opted for hysterectomies.

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But now doctors will advise therapy over or alongside these alternatives, and are taking the issue of PMS much more seriously. Dr Shaughn O’Brien said: “The trouble is most people see women with mild symptoms and they don’t appreciate the impact PMS can have on some women: divorce, suicide, inability to work.

“There is strong evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy is as effective for PMS as prozac. It is an action that continues. Once you stop a drug the patient goes back to where they were; CBT sets them up for the future and they can return to it by themselves.”

“I have patients who come in and request a hysterectomy after their PMS has been the cause of their divorce. I’ve stopped women getting divorced by treating them. It is an awful problem that is not taken seriously.”