Today I want to talk about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
What is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can cause many emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before you start your period. It is sometimes referred to as ‘severe PMS’.
While many people who are able to have periods may experience some mild symptoms of PMS, if you have PMDD these symptoms are much worse and can have a serious impact on your life. Experiencing PMDD can make it difficult to work, socialise and have healthy relationships. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts.
Throughout my teen years and ever since I started my menstrual cycle I have struggled with my hormones. While most women around me seemed to have a slight version of PMS, mine was on steroids and it wasn’t uncommon for me to completely change personality the week before my period.
I have been called Jekyll and Hyde during these times and it is something I find very difficult to control.
The only way I can describe it is, my normal well-balanced life goes out of the window and I become fixated, paranoid and very angry. At times the rage can only be calmed down through a huge amount of physical activity, which then leaves me physically drained. However, the mental side is more tricky to control and I can have very low, black moods with dark thoughts.
I can’t take anti-depressants for this or any other mental health issues around depression I suffer from, as I have bad reactions to anti-depressants. At any rate I prefer the natural route as it seems to agree with me more even if it is a longer road to travel.
I tried taking the pill but it caused migraines something which as you will have read from previous posts I suffer from so I had to come off the pill I was on.
I am very fortunate in the fact I have some close girlfriends who are exactly the same and we support each other throughout the month. I don’t know what I would have done without these women throughout my life.
What are the symptoms of PMDD?
- mood swings
- feeling upset or tearful
- feeling angry or irritable
- feelings of anxiety
- feeling hopeless
- feelings of tension or being on edge
- difficulty concentrating
- feeling overwhelmed
- lack of energy
- less interest in activities you normally enjoy
- suicidal feelings
Physical and behavioural experiences
- breast tenderness or swelling
- pain in your muscles and joints
- feeling bloated
- changes in your appetite such as overeating or having specific food cravings
- sleep problems
- finding it hard to avoid or resolve conflicts with people around you
- becoming very upset if you feel that others are rejecting you
You will typically only experience these symptoms for a week or two before your period starts. The symptoms follow your menstrual cycle, so you might find they start to get better when you get your period and will usually have disappeared by the time your period is finished.
What are the causes of PMDD?
- Being very sensitive to changes in hormone levels. Recent research suggests that PMDD is associated with increased sensitivity to the normal hormonal changes that occur during your monthly menstrual cycle.
- Genetics. Some research suggests that this increased sensitivity to changes in hormone levels may be caused by genetic variations.
As they say, knowledge is power and I wish someone had made me aware of this condition in my teens as it could have saved me a lot of heartache in relationships and work.
PMDD has only recently been listed as a mental health problem. The feelings of utter desolation and depression seem very real at the time and you feel as if the decisions you are making and the thoughts you are having are rational, but in reality they are not.
I find it helpful not to make any decisons during this time, particularly life changing ones. As with any mental health condition talking it through with a health professional or friends who suffer with the same issues helps enormously.
From a natural point of view I find taking drops of a good quality CBD oil helps calm you down and relaxes the paranoid feelings you may be experiencing.
I would caution about what you watch or read during this time. I know it can impact me hugely if I watch something dark and so I am very careful.
Try to explain to people what you are suffering from, particularly men. My partner isn’t an emotional person and it is probably a good job really as I have enough emotions for both of us. He doesn’t really understand. However, as long as I try to explain in the best way possible then we can ride the through the storm together.
Lastly, laughter is in fact the best medicine. I have found in general during very dark periods of my life, if you can laugh about it then it almost takes the edge off the situation.
If like me you have suffered suicidal thoughts during this time then please speak to someone. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or speak to your doctor or health professional.
Don’t suffer in silence alone, like I did, before I found my sisterhood. It isn’t worth it and considering you will probably experience this every month you need that support network behind you.
The video below gives you some indication of what the condition is like and groups and services out there to help you.