PMDD-Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Let’s talk about Premenstrual Tension
Let’s talk about the fact that I just got my first period in two years since I’ve been breastfeeding for sixteen months.
Let’s talk about how moody I have been.
Let’s talk about how depressed I have been feeling like my whole world is ending.
Let’s talk about how I haven’t been eating and how unusual this is as I love to eat and as small as I am I tend to eat more than my husband sometimes.
Let’s talk about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and how real it is.
We hear about being moody when you are menstruating and how all the hormones have an effect on you and it’s this big funny joke but it can also be an all to real serious dangerous experience.
I got my period for the first time in over two years. Not because I’m abnormal but because I was pregnant and then breastfed for sixteen months. I was first happy when my reds appeared as this meant I’m fertile again and if you know me you know I ache for a little girl and love babies so much that even when I’m super overwhelmed apart of me always wants another one. I was happy and then it hit me, it felt like my whole world crumbled and I had a dark cloud hanging over me, I was grumpy, sad, snappy and my appetite was gone. I was so sad, everything around me just appeared to be shit and I was ready to go to war especially with my husband. Nothing he did was good enough and if my son said anything my emotions were shook.
I knew something was going on with me but I didn’t know what. My husband’s mom called me as we try and do a weekly check in for our blog and just check in with each other. Sue, who we know as Nana, is a qualified psychologist, hypnotherapist, meditation guru and author. I told her how I was feeling and why my body was going through, I was shaking with anxiety, not sleeping and not eating and fighting everyone while feeling super sad. She sent me a link and she asked if I had ever heard of PMDD. I read the link and it all made sense.
Nana and I decided to post about this because as woman we tend to overlook our mental health sometimes and this can drive us insane. Knowing that what I was going through made sense and that it was not just me losing my mind was a major relief to me. Sometimes you are feeling down and you start searching in all the wrong places for answers. Whose fault is it? Is it my husband’s fault? What is he not doing or doing? Is it my kid’s fault? Is it my fault? Is my life over? And this can cause chaos.
Nana is going to explain what PMDD is and what you can do about it if you think you may be suffering from it.
Today I would like to talk to you about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
Recently Tracy told me that she got her period for the first time in two years after being pregnant and breast feeding her son, Eli, and was having a really hard time emotionally. I remember struggling with PMS when I was younger and my heart went out to her. Sometimes I would have an outburst and feel guilty afterwards as it was out of character with my personality. The next day I would start my period and all the emotional turmoil I had been experiencing would miraculously disappear. Once I realized I had PMS I found ways of dealing with it. I used to take Evening Primrose oil and I believe that it helped as well as exercising and eating healthily. Once I stopped having my periods I stopped experiencing symptoms associated with PMS.
Later when I was studying Psychopathology for my MS degree in psychology I came across Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorderwhich has been recently recognized in the DSM-5, which is the text book psychologists use to diagnose disorders. After Tracy told me about her ordeal I did some research on PMDD and send her a link to an article I found online. I would like to recommend that she starts keeping a mood chart or daily journal for two to three months. If she feels she may be suffering from PMDD she can take the mood chart to her doctor as a record to explain what is happening to her on a monthly basis. I would also recommend that she try some of the treatments listed below like Vitamin B6 and Evening Primrose oil.
PMDD is different from mood disorders because of the cyclical nature of the mood disturbance. The symptoms are only present for a specific period of time each month as opposed to other mood disorders that are constant over time. Therefore, the best way to determine if you have PMDD is through daily journaling of symptoms or keeping a mood chart. The symptoms are not present when there is no menstrual cycle so it therefore resolves during pregnancy and menopause. Women will not experience symptoms in the period between their period and ovulation. The cause of PMDD is biological and not psychological. It happens to women who are sensitive to the cyclical hormonal changes that occur in their body but it does not mean that there is anything wrong with their hormones.
Both PMMD and PMS cause symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue and changes in sleep and eating habits. But PMDD is more severe and more disabling than PMS. PMMD causes extreme mood swings that can disrupt your work and damage your relationships. In PMMD at least one of the following symptoms stands out:
Sadness or hopelessness
Anxiety or tension
Marked irritability or anger
Journaling or keeping a mood chart can be helpful in confirming a diagnosis of the disorder and it can help women anticipate times when they may be at risk for mood swings. Always remember to put the date at the top of the page so you can refer back to it later and use it as a medical record to present to your doctor.
Lifestyle changes such as eliminating caffeine, sugar and sodium; reducing alcohol and nicotine use and ensuring adequate sleep may be helpful. Regular exercise relieves symptoms of PMDD.
Certain nutritional substances such as calcium, vitamin B6 and Vitamin E have been known to improve symptoms as well certain herbs such as Evening Primrose oil. Studies show psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have been known to be effective in treating the condition.
Patients with severe PMS or with a diagnosis of PMDD may be given anti-depressants by their doctor.
Birth control pills with no pill-free interval or with a shortened pill-free interval may reduce symptoms for some women.
Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation and yoga may also be helpful.
Try to avoid any stressful and emotional triggers whenever possible.
A diagnosis can be made through excluding other medical and psychiatric conditions and through your daily ratings of symptoms.
I hope this sheds some light on this recently recognized condition and that if you think you may be suffering from it you get the support and treatment you need in dealing with it.
I will be looking at other mood disorders such as Bipolar and Depression in future posts during the following weeks and months.
In love and light,