If you are a woman I am sure you know what PMS is and you may even cringe at the thought of it. There are not too many people who know what Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is, unfortunately for me I know exactly what it is as I was diagnosed with it when I was 19 years old. It’s really not fun, and it can be hard to deal with sometimes, but in the end knowing what Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is, makes it easier for me to manage the symptoms when they come. I hope this post will help you recognize if you have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and how you can help manage your symptoms if you do.
What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
Most women know what Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is; Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is essentially PMS on steroids. PMDD can cause severe mood swings along with other symptoms that can disrupt your life, but there is a huge distinction between PMS and PMDD, which I will talk about later.
What are the Symptoms of PMDD and how do they differ from PMS?
There are many symptoms of PMDD and PMS, but there are major differences that help determine if you have PMDD or just typical PMS.
- Mood Swings
Both PMS and PMDD can cause mood swings, but the severity of these mood swings is greater if you have PMDD. There is one additional thing with PMDD though, there is at least one of the following emotional symptoms: sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, extreme moodiness, or marked irritability or anger. Often times these mood swings will have a severe impact on your life, either your work life or your social life.
For me, I noticed that I was always angry for no reason usually about a week before my period would start. I also noticed that around the same time I would become extremely depressed. I found it hard to get out of bed in the morning, no matter how much I tried, and I didn’t find joy in anything.
With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder you have extreme fatigue. It doesn’t matter how much you sleep, you will still be tired and want to sleep all day.
I can say from a personal standpoint, that I can easily sleep all day and all night for a week straight with no problem about a week before my period. I hate it because I want to get up before my daughter but I just cannot pull myself out of bed no matter how much I try. Some of this goes back to the depressed mood, but it is also a symptom of PMDD.
- Sleep problems
While you may be tired all the time, you will most likely also have trouble sleeping. This can be for many reasons, you may have increased anxiety which will keep your mind racing and make it harder for you to fall asleep or you may have physical pain that makes it hard to sleep. All the tossing and turning doesn’t help with the fatigue you are experiencing either.
Again, personally, I have horrible cramps and back pain before and during my period. This makes it hard to sleep at night and makes it hard to get comfortable. I always have trouble getting my mind to shut down at night, and during my period it seems like it is even harder to quiet my mind.
- Physical problems
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder also comes with a whole host of physical problems including bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, swelling, muscle pain, and cramping. These things are also present with PMS, but with PMDD they are more severe. For example, some women increase and entire pant size the week before their period due to the water retention.
For me, the physical symptoms were extremely severe. I would have cramps that were so bad I literally would crawl out of bed on my hands and knees because I couldn’t stand up. I often find that my pants fit significantly tighter the week before my period and I have about 5-8 pounds of weight gain due to the water retention. I also have severe headaches and breast tenderness.
How can I manage Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
The first thing that you have to do is be diagnosed by a doctor with PMDD. There are a lot of questions that your doctor will ask you and your answers will help determine exactly what you are going through. If your symptoms are present all the time, it is unlikely that you have PMDD and may need to be treated for something else. Once you have the correct diagnosis, there are many ways to help with PMDD.
- Nutrition is almost always the number one way to help with anything. Proper nutrition can help with cramping and can help increase you energy helping with fatigue. You want to limit your intake of salt and increase your intake of water to help with water retention. You also want to avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as these will increase your symptoms.
- Getting regular exercise may seem counterintuitive, but it can actually improve your mood and increase your energy.
- Many times you will need to be put on medication to help ease your symptoms. There are many options out there depending on your symptoms and the severity of your symptoms. Certain birth control pills can help with some of the symptoms because the symptoms are thought to be caused by hormonal changes in the body, though they may come with other unwanted side effects such as weight gain. Antidepressants, either taken continuously or just during the week before and the week of your period, can help with the emotional symptoms. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen are all over the counter medications that can help with pain.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is not fun to deal with, but knowing what the symptoms are and how to treat them can help you get through it month to month. If you think you have PMDD make sure to talk to your doctor to find out the best treatment options for you.
Have you been diagnosed with PMDD? What has been your experience and how have you treated it?