With Mental Health Awareness Week approaching on Monday, I decided to write a post that I have been debating on for a while. It’s a personal one and I really wanted to share my experience in the hope it’ll help others and also help break the taboo of speaking out about mental health and also menstrual health (yes, I said it!)….
Having had my own battles with depression when I was in my late teens / early 20s, resulting in an attempt to take my own life, it all seemed to start from that point. The trigger – being on the Pill and not knowing how to cope with a number of bad things happening in my life, because of my spiriling symptoms ( IMO, The Pill can definitely f*** you up and I am happy to be synthetic hormone free now!). Thankfully, I got through this stage of my life with the help of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, coming off the pill and of course having people around to help. However, PMDD remained…
For me, up until quite recently, I used to dread the week before and the first half of my period. It would be like this dark cloud would permanently be looming over me. I’d become a different person, the polar opposite of my usual cheery and energetic self. Becoming incredibly down, feeling insecure, irrational and foggy headed, the simplest things would feel like a massive effort. I would have a lack of enthusiam for things I usually would get excited about, feel low in confidence and super tired! Sometimes, it would affect my relationship with family/friends and I would often have to try my best to conceal my symptoms whilst at work or at social commitments.
So what is PMDD?
I was going to bullet point all the symptoms of PMDD , however I found this infographic that does a better job! :
What causes PMDD?
Whilst there isn’t a specific list of causes, it is said that various factors, such as your general mental health, genes, environment and social factors, all have a part to play. Research has shown that PMDD could be caused by a genetic malfunction, which causes a sensitivity to the fluctuation of hormones at the time of your period.
There’s also a strong link between women who are prone to or have had depressive disorders developing PMDD. With various studies having found that between 30% and 76% of women who have PMDD also have a history of depression.
What can you do to help alleviate symptoms?
Having gone to the doctors, I was advised to try anti-depressents to help reduce symptoms. I was tempted to try them out, just wanting to find something that could make it stop and knowing for some women with PMDD, it helped. However, before taking the medication , I wanted see what more there was I could do to proactively try and relieve my symptoms.
Following research, advice from naturopaths and others who suffer with PMDD, the below I have tried for almost a year and my symptoms are sooo much better! I now just get the standard PMS symptoms that most women get, at their time of the month (woohoo!):
- Regular exercise & yoga – releases endorphins and helps to de-stress
- Trying to avoid artificial sugar and caffeine as much as possible- this is to prevent highs and lows. Sugar has been known to cause mood swings and caffeine can increase irritability and anxiety.
- Taking Evening Primrose Oil – 1000mg daily and doubling the dosage the week before my period. “A study at St. Thomas Hospital in London found that when PMS sufferers were given evening primrose oil three times daily, 67% of the participants were symptom-free and 22% achieved partial relief. In all total, 89% had positive results with the evening primrose oil.” (www.hhnews.com/epo.htm)
- Taking the traditional herbal supplement, Agnus Castus daily – These also help with the physical symptoms such as breast pain. Link here
- Vitamin B6 100mg daily
- Focusing on your mindset– Being aware and knowing that the symptoms are simply caused by your period. Recognising the mood change, accepting it and trying to think past it. It’s difficult, but defintely helps to try and think logically when you know you are due to start to period.
Of course, some people suffer with more severe and persistent symptoms than others and so medication may be the best option. However, I really encourage trying the above first and seeing if it works for you!
I really hope this post has helped, not only, those who suffer with PMDD but also anyone who is struggling with their periods.
I would love to know your thoughts on my post, feel free to contact me
Please Note: I am not a doctor. The recommendations are ones that I have found to work for me. Always seek medical attention if you are concerned about your mental health and check supplements do not interact with any medication you may be taking.