How to deal with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder PMDD
For some, periods are an inconvenience and the worst time of the month and you may need help with how to deal with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder PMDD, for others, it’s an instant relief.
You might have heard of Premenstrual dysphoric disorder known as PMDD, but you probably don’t know what it means. You might not even realise you have it. In a nutshell, it’s a severe form of PMS that causes depression-like symptoms one or two weeks before the period.
When that time of the month comes, it feels like someone turned on a switch. Suddenly, you’re anxious, moody and out of control. You might find it difficult to focus on work because the fatigue is so debilitating.
You might be overwhelmed with negative emotions: hopelessness, fear, feelings of depression. You might cry out of nowhere and snap at your loved ones. You might even experience suicidal thoughts. Add muscles pains, headaches and insomnia and you have a recipe for a very confusing rollercoaster. As soon as the period comes, symptoms resolve and you feel like yourself again.
- It’s estimated that it affects 1 in 20 women, however, not many doctors have enough knowledge to diagnose PMDD
- It exacerbates symptoms of anxiety and depression but also produces them
- In some cases, it might even last for up to 2 weeks each month
- It’s associated with low levels of serotonin responsible for mood regulation, sleep and pain control
While there’s no cure for PMDD, there are strategies you can follow to make the symptoms more manageable.
1. Be prepared ahead of time.
The main thing you should do is monitor your menstrual cycle which is especially important if your periods are irregular. You can keep a diary of your symptoms each month or download a menstrual app that helps to track them. This way, you’ll be able to spot the pattern – you’ll know when they begin and how severe they are.
It’s not only important for a correct diagnosis but also helps you be prepared for what’s to come and build a routine that alleviates the symptoms.
When you’re not aware you have PMDD, it’s easy to confuse the difficulties with other health issues, especially if you have a history of mental health problems. Knowing the changes in your mood and behaviour are hormonal will give you a sense of control.
2. Try to eat healthily
Caffeine might help you beat that severe fatigue you’re struggling with but won’t be a good idea in the long run. If you want to keep your mood in check, you have to make sure your diet is healthy and benefits your body.
Include magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, dark chocolate, whole grains or bananas. Magnesium is known to reduce symptoms of depression and water retention. Another good addition is vitamin D that helps regulate the mood and can be found in oily fish, egg yolks and red meat.
You might also consider taking supplements such as fish oil which improves both psychiatric and somatic symptoms of PMDD.
3. Consider trying CBD tea
CBD is a cannabidiol which is a chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike marijuana, it doesn’t have psychoactive properties as it contains only trace amounts of THC (up to 0.2%) responsible for such effects.
CBD is linked to a range of health benefits: pain relief, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, acne reduction and improved sleep.
In some people, it might cause fatigue, diarrhoea or changes in appetite but no major side effects were noted so far. It does, however, interact with other medications so make sure you discuss it with your doctor first.
5. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is great for improving your general well-being. It’s a treatment that uses essential oils that are inhaled and absorbed by your skin. Diluted oils might be added to a bath or inhaled directly. You can also use an oil diffuser.
The best oil to alleviate PMDD symptoms is lavender (used to relieve stress), chamomile (improves mood) and peppermint (boosts energy).
6. Make a self-care plan
When the PMDD symptoms come, you have to make sure to be extra gentle with yourself. PMDD might make you feel hopeless and doubt your abilities, direction in life and relationships with people.
You might want to continue with your usual routine but sometimes it’s physically impossible and it’s important that you’re self-compassionate. You might have to learn to challenge negative thoughts.
One way to do that is to practise affirmations. Think of positive statements you can repeat to yourself every day and make affirmation your habit.
Another way is to write a motivating message and stick it to the wall. When things become too much, have a list of relaxing activities you enjoy ready.
This might include having a hot bath, watching a favourite tv show or going for a walk. Make sure you get plenty of sleep every day and not just before your period – feeling well-rested will prevent extreme irritability and elevate your mood.
Lastly, take a closer look at your contraception. Some forms of contraception, especially the progesterone-only pill, might increase your symptoms of PMDD.
7. Join a support group
PMDD can make you feel lonely and isolated. Other people might find it hard to relate to your struggles and doctors might refuse to diagnose it.
But PMDD is a valid disorder that can cause severe depressive symptoms – it just doesn’t last constantly. Join a support group on social media and connect with people who face similar difficulties. It will help you gain closure and a sense of support.
If symptoms become too much and significantly impair your functioning, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat.