Many women tend to experience changes in their mood and emotions along with physical discomfort around a week or so before their periods. The severity of these changes can be mild to moderate, and while some women might notice that they are feeling a bit moody and a little out of sorts, others may experience more prominent changes in their mood, such as becoming extremely agitated or crying easily, skin outbreaks, feeling heavy and bloated, tired, tender breasts, and generally just feeling downright ‘bleh’.
If you experience these symptoms almost every month around the same time, and if they thankfully alleviate when your period starts, then you most likely have PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).
But what if your symptoms are so much worse than that?
What if the physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness, joint and muscle pain, bloatedness, and brain fog are so severe that you cannot get out of bed? Or debilitating insomnia and lack of sleep impair your cognitive ability at work and the sheer exhaustion is so overwhelming that you fall asleep at your desk, severely impacting your job performance, resulting in crushing anxiety and panic attacks, which leave you feeling totally helpless and out of control.
What if your unpredictable and extreme mood swings, uncontrollable outbursts of rage with loved ones or even co-workers and clients are causing breakdowns in your relationships and jeopardizing your very livelihood.
If this sounds more like what you experience, then you may have PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)
What is the difference between PMS and PMDD?
PMS and PMDD have many of the same symptoms, so they may appear very similar at first glance, however, the main difference is in the severity of the symptoms. Think along the lines of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For some women, the difference is that drastic.
To put it plainly, a person with PMS feels out of sorts. A person with PMDD feels out of control.
So what causes PMDD?
Although the precise cause is not yet well understood, changes in hormone levels seem to play a significant role. Generally speaking, there is an increased sensitivity to your reproductive hormones during the 2 weeks before your period starts. This sensitivity results in shifts in the brain chemicals and neurological pathways that regulate your mood and overall sense of well-being. Depression and anxiety are also linked to PMS and PMDD and it is believed that the change in hormone levels may exacerbate the symptoms.
The interesting thing is that many women with anxiety and depression do not even realize that they have PMDD because they simply put the ‘episodes’ down to their mental health.
This understandably leads to some confusion and frustration on the part of the patient though, because many times the person will be provided with new medications or dosages are adjusted, however, they know that some of the time they feel really good, and they do not understand why the medications don’t always help. They have not made the link between their menstrual cycle and their symptoms.
So how can you check if there is a connection?
Symptoms of PMDD are divided into 2 categories. Emotional, and physical.
You must have one of these in this category and then between the two groups, you need to have five.
If you think you or someone you know may have PMDD, then keep a diary for 2 months. Once you have recorded your symptoms for 2 months and if you think you could fit the pattern of PMDD, then you should make an appointment with a health care practitioner to discuss your symptoms and a viable treatment plan. Your health care practitioner may decide to run further tests to rule out any other conditions.
The good news is that with the correct supplements, guidance, and support and with the right program tailored to your symptoms and unique requirements, the condition can be managed and you can ultimately function in a calm and happy way regardless of what time of the month it is
If you or a loved one is seeking guidance for anxiety, depression, or stress, please get in touch with our team here at Anxiety Free Life and My Local Hypnosis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or book a free 30-minute session here
References: Pérez-López, F. R., Chedraui, P., Pérez-Roncero, G., López-Baena, M. T., & Cuadros-López, J. L. (2009). Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Symptoms and cluster influences. The Open Psychiatry Journal, 3, Article 39-49.
Disclaimer: All of the information on this article is for educational purposes and not intended to be specific/personal medical advice from me to you.