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A brief introduction to PMDD by @toritsui

A brief introduction to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) written by @toritsui_. Find the post here

My experience with PMDD

Two weeks out of a month leading up to my period, I experience severe depression, anxiety and agitation. After my period ends, my mood improves but the exhaustion of my 'lower' months means that I feel like I have to spend my time picking up the pieces. This rollercoaster of emotions, aches and pains is my reality. And it took me so long to get a diagnosis due to lack of awareness and sadly due to people not 'believing' me. Living with PMDD feels like a constant battle to validate my health. Even though I learned about PMDD in 2012, I still have to explain to medical professionals what it is.

What is PMDD?

"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'... Experiencing PMDD can make it difficult to work, socialise and have healthy relationships. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts."

Emotional symptoms

  • 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/behavioural symptoms

  • Breast tenderness or swelling

  • Pain in your muscles and joints

  • Headaches

  • 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

What causes PMDD?

It is estimated that 3-8% of menstruating people (this varies according to source) suffer from PMDD

Recent studies have found genetic links to the disorder whereby certain genes account for sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations. Hormonal changes can influence certain receptors in your brain.

Things that I notice about my PMDD

My sensitivity to fluctuating hormones means that I find taking hormonal birth control near impossible. I'm also extremely sensitive to my environment; lack of sleep and proper nutrition can exacerbate my symptoms. I've also noticed that taboo around menstrual health has prevented people from getting a proper diagnosis and have contributed to the sexist rhetorics around people's mental health, E.g. "crazy ex-girlfiend"

How do I manage my PMDD?

I use a cycle tracker called 'clue' (although I believe there are limitations to this app's recording of PMDD). I have been part of PMDD support groups (having that validation is really Important). Regular sleep, a healthy diet and exercise are essential for managing this condition. I'm also on the antidepressant drug Sertaline (please consult your GP about medicating). I've also previously used CBD oil to manage symptoms.

Talking about and raising awareness about PMDD is paramount.

Share this post to help raise awareness and break down stigma around menstrual health disorders.

Give @toritsui_ a follow on Instagram here

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