For some people ‘bad PMS’ just doesn’t cut it, and we really feel for you! We chat to Amy who has been diagnosed with PMDD about how she deals with her symptoms, how it affects her life and the trouble she had getting diagnosed.
First, a little bit of sciency stuff about PMDD.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, also known as PMDD for short, is a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Trying to cope with PMDD on a monthly basis is tough.
It’s the cause of both physical and mental symptoms which can happen for a week or two before your period starts and lasts until a few days after it begins.
Image Credit:@one.tuff.muvva on instagram
The reason why you might experience PMDD isn’t fully understood. However, it is thought that it could be either genetic (women having personal or family history of postpartum depression, mood swings and depression) or down to being sensitive to hormone changes which happen during your menstrual cycle. It may cause a decrease in serotonin.
This is a condition that happens every month. People who suffer from it feel like they have finally picked up the pieces from the previous bout just as the next one starts. It can be exhausting and mentally draining when trying to cope with PMDD.
Symptoms of PMDD UK by Mind
- 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
There are so many more symptoms associated with this condition fully explained by Johns Hopkins Medicine website.
Summed up in a photo below by @one.tuff.muvva on instagram
Physical and behavioural experiences
- breast tenderness or swelling
- pain in your muscles and joints
- 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
Taken from Mind.co.uk
How I cope with PMDD - Real Life Story
We had a chat with Amy Steel, aka One.tuff.muvva about her experience with PMDD, how it affects her life and how she got diagnosed with the condition.
Amy refers to PMDD as ‘hell week’ which I’m sure anyone who has also been diagnosed, or is waiting to be, could agree with the term!
What would you say your main (and most debilitating) symptoms are?
For me the most debilitating symptom would be the migraines.
They can literally knock me off my feet for days. The other main symptoms are severe anxiety, fatigue and suicidal thoughts.
Are people understanding of your condition or do you find people are dismissive as it’s an ‘invisible’ condition?
I find that a lot of people claim to be understanding but assume PMDD is the same as PMS.
I’m encouraged by loved ones to still participate in social events and exercise etc because they think ‘it’ll do me good’ when in actual fact, during hell week I am crippled physically and mentally and just want to hide away until it’s over.
When and how did you get diagnosed? Did you find it difficult to get diagnosed?
Diagnosis was nearly 2 years ago now. And yes, it was difficult! Not many healthcare professionals have heard of the condition and tend to diagnose severe PMS instead.
I was asked to keep a symptom diary for 6 months to accurately link them to my cycle. I found the information regarding PMDD on the Mind website the most helpful.
How often before your period starts do you get PMDD symptoms?
Between 7-10 days usually.
How do you manage your symptoms to cope with PMDD?
I try and make sure I don’t plan lots of things during hell week so the pressure is off to ‘put on a brave face’ I use cold compresses for my migraines and lavender hot packs for my cramps.
I take 200mg of Sertraline to try and manage the anxiety and depression and Zapain for the agonising back ache. I also take CBD daily which helps ease the anxiety and aches and pains. I used to vape CBD but now I use a dropper bottle. I also have monthly B12 injections which help massively with the fatigue.
What aspects of your life do you feel are affected by your PMDD (work, relationships, family, etc)
All of them! It’s extremely difficult to concentrate on work during hell week as we suffer from ‘brain fog’ and fatigue. The mood swings and heightened irritability make relationships with everyone difficult.
The smallest thing can send me flying into a rage or hysterical crying! This is why I try and hide away during hell week so I don’t subject my family and friends to it!
Have you tried Our Remedy to help your PMDD and did you find it helpful?
Yes I have! It’s is fantastic! I find that it helps settle a nervous tummy and eases cramps/aches and pains!
What advice would you give to someone who has been diagnosed with PMDD?
Find what works best for you to manage your symptoms, the same things don’t work for everyone!
Also, Join an online community of like-minded people. These are the ones that truly understand what you’re going through and are there to offer support and advice!
Coping with PMDD - final thoughts
If you feel you are suffering from PMDD, then it is important to get the help you need. You should chat with your GP, a specialist organisation and someone you trust. Having your family and loved ones understand how you feel will really help too, so be open. Hopefully this will make ‘hell week’ as Amy calls it, a little easier with support around you.
Another way you can help yourself is to understand your symptoms and when they are at their worst. If you feel particularly anxious or stressed a week before your period starts then try to avoid events that will heighten these feelings. You might even try a daily dose of CBD to combat your anxiety.
Be kind to yourself. If you know you have a bad day 3 days before your period starts then spend the day doing things you love. Catch up on a boxset, read a book, have a bath – anything that makes you feel better.
Do you suffer from PMDD? What is your advice for someone who has been diagnosed with the condition? Let us know on @itsourremedy