Is it PMS or Something More?

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It's no surprise to anyone that women go through "hormonal mood swings" once a month. Many people (here's looking at you, guys) just assume that a woman is PMSing, and that there is no reason to be concerned, or treat her with respect (which you should be doing regardless of the fact...). However, in a small percentage of women, PMS is not wreaking havoc on their hormone-filled bodies. Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder, most commonly referred to PMDD, is the culprit of their woes, but why does it only affect such a small percentage of women?

PMDD is a very serious form of PMS. It is so serious, that a form of birth control is on the market to help curb and combat symptoms. Think of it as PMS but intensified by at least 100 times. 

As WebMD states, the current cause of PMDD is unknown, but there have been studies done that show a connection between seretonin levels in the brain and PMDD. Seretonin is used as a messenger in the brain to control many functions in our everyday lives, such as pain, mood, sleep, and attention. 

The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS. They can be a combination of mood swings, sad feelings of hopelessness, increased anger, irritability, tension, anxiety, a decrease of interest in everyday activities, problems concentrating, cravings for foods, crying, breast tenderness, bad acne, gastrointestinal issues, appetite changes, feeling tired, feeling like you are out of control, or overwhelmed in your life, and bloating. If you suffer from at least five of these symptoms, especially one of the first four, that happen right before your menstrual cycle is supposed to start, but goes away after it starts, chances are high you've got PMDD. 

If your PMS symptoms are really severe, it is probably best to make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist. The reasoning behind this is to rule out other problems that affect mental health, like depression, panic disorder, as well as gynecological issues like endometriosis, early onset menopause, and other hormonal issues. 

Of course, underlying depression and anxiety symptoms are already present in both PMS and PMDD, but changes in hormones could make mood disorders worse, says the Mayo Clinic

Luckily, there are treatments (besides birth control) available to help you cope with these not-so-nice symptoms. Anti-depressants can be prescribed, to help reduce fatigue, food cravings, and problems with sleep. These anti-depressants can be taken monthly, or in the time between ovulation and the onset of your menstrual cycle. 

Eating right and taking nutritional supplements can also be of help. Supplements like calcium, calcium magnesium, as well as L-tryptophan can help ease symptoms. Exercising can also play a part in this role, because not only are you taking care of your body, and trying to keep in shape, but you are focusing on something other than your mood swings, cravings for the world's worst foods, and those horrible, awful, cramps.

You can also take a relaxing bath with lavender to ease some symptoms as well, because lavender has been known for its calming properties. Yoga has a similar effect as well. Getting rid or reducing stressors in your life can ease symptoms as well. 

Hopefully one day science will be able to figure out why PMDD strikes some women, and strikes them hard enough to interfere with their daily lives. As for now, the best motto for dealing with it is to keep calm and de-stress.

1 Comment

It's amazing to me that there are so many causes for PMS to become worse. I personally have a disease called PCOS, which is basically a hormone imbalance, and untreated, one of the symptoms is that PMS symptoms tend to be more severe. When I began getting treated for it, I was surprised that my doctor put me on Metformin, a medicine that is typically used to treat diabetes. It's the last thing I would expect to help hormones, but it has been working extremely well for me. I've been doing online research ever since to try and figure out how it works, but I'm just glad it does.

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