I was on schedule. It was four days before my period and the hormones had just begun poking their ugly nose in my relationships with other humans. The first to face its wrath was, by default, my brave husband. But something strange happened that day. Instead of being his calm and understanding self, he too turned into an agitated beast. My PMS monster had met its match. He was feeling every emotion that I was. He was irritable, restless, bored, frustrated and gloomy all at once. But for him, a warm hug and hot chocolate was not doing the trick. This was serious business.
And that’s when I found myself wondering “Is my man PMS-ing?”
Well, the answer is no, men don’t PMS. They suffer from something else called IMS – Irritable Male Syndrome, a term coined by psychotherapist Jed Diamond. We often tend to forget that hormones are not limited to women and so, neither are unprecedented hormonal imbalances. Irritable male syndrome (IMS) can be defined as a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and loss of male identity.
Studies have shown that although more women suffer from depression than men, men experience depression in different ways than women. Irritability, anger and hypersensitivity are in fact, male forms of depression that often go unrecognized. A major contributor to this is stress. In the old days, stress came from definite sources, like a threat from a wild animal would be stressful. And in such situations, the response expected of a man, was physical. Men would pick up an axe and deal with the stress-point. But now, stress has changed its form. Too much traffic, missing out on precious time with the family, wondering if your country is in fact going to the dogs; have all turned into little stress-points and men have no clue how to deal with them. And so, there are two probable outcomes when this happens – aggressive violence, or mute inward depression.
The testosterone levels in men deteriorate as they grow older. Some doctors believe that about forty percent of men above the age of 45 have testosterone levels below the normal. This can also be linked to ailments like high blood pressure and diabetes. The term for this mid-age hormonal crisis for men, is Andropause (also known as Male Menopause).
Sadly though, we don’t identify men as hormonal beings. We tend to think that men work more on logic. And so, their aggression and frustration is seen as a sign of negativity and acting-out rather than accepting it for what is really is –a sign of unhappiness and depression.
There are three basic ways a man suffering from IMS might react:
- The first type is irritable. Small matters can cause deep frustrations.
- The second is more reactive. Sadly, this kind can turn abusive and even cause cracks in his relationships.
- The third type is withdrawal. This man does not want to interact even in his important relationships.
If you see these signs in the men around you, don’t mistake them to just be signs of him turning into a ‘grumpy old man’. Talk to him and raise your concerns with your doctors as well. Sometimes simple changes like a change in the diet, stress-relief advice, hormonal medications and other remedies are all the solution you need to bring him back. It is important that we recognize this maddening role of hormones in our lives and give it the attention it deserves.
My man however, was not suffering from IMS. He was just being cranky. And what finally helped us get through this, was my glorious shower of PMS tears and him apologizing with a big jar of Nutella.
Vedangi Dandwate (Author)