PMDD is real. You don't have to be alone.
“I need to get this off of my chest! It feels like a switch; when it is off, I am myself and when it is on, I don’t recognize myself” she said. This specific and heart wrenching feedback was not new to me. You are not alone I said. Let me just explain.
PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) affects 1 in 12 menstruating individuals. PMDD is a severe form of PMS that only happens 7-10 days before menstrual period starts and ends with the star of the new cycle.
PMDD slowly poisons every aspect of one’s life. For 7-10 days of every cycle (luteal phase), you may feel depressed, have panic attacks, have an unexplainable rage that is blinding and contemplate or even attempt self-harm. Body dysmorphia kicks in with a vengeance. Your appetite is not the same and you know that it is not the “I want sweets!”. You may feel like you need to pick up the pieces of your life at the end of each cycle. You might have been put on contraceptive pills or generic Zoloft with the hopes that they regulate your hormones and emotions. What we now know is that PMDD is the brain’s response to ovulation. While birth control can be helpful for some, some people report worsening of their PMDD symptoms.
“Is this going to be me for the rest of my life?! How much longer can I do this?” but before you can answer, the switch goes off and you no longer identify with these feelings… until it shows up again.
Unannounced. But somehow expected.
There is help. There is support.
Screening and early detection is key. It is crucial to work with a provider who is knowledgeable and trained in treatment of PMDD. Tracking of symptoms for at least 2 cycles is a must to determine the severity of PMDD symptoms as it could be mild, moderate or severe. Your cycle and therefore your treatment for PMDD will be different and unique to you.