Bloody Period – Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Bloody Period – Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Lots of girls and women experience debilitating pain or cramps before or during their periods. Period pains commonly occur in teenage girls and young women. 

Dysmenorrhoea is the technical term for period pain that is derived from an ancient Greek expression which literally means “ difficult monthly flow”. Some women feel sad or emotional towards the beginning of menstrual life. With symptoms such as abdominal cramps, heaviness in the pelvic area, severe pain in the lower back, stomach or even legs, mensuration can also influence someone’s mood. 

Cycles of menstruation are times of intense hormonal fluctuation that can give rise to anxiety or depression. It’s normal to have the blues or to feel anxious or depressed before and during the menstrual period.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) 

Many women in the reproductive years experience some symptoms of PMS. PMS is basically a combination of psychological, physical, emotional, behavioral symptoms that women get about a week or two before their period. Experts estimate that up to 75% of menstruating women experience some form of PMS and the symptoms affect more than 90% of menstruating women. 

Some premenstrual symptoms are bloating, headaches, moodiness, irritability, food cravings, diarrhea, abdominal pains, emotional outbursts, fatigue, etc. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “PMS may interfere with a woman’s quality of life, interpersonal relationships, or ability to attend work or school.”

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

A more severe form of PMS is PMDD. It is a cyclical hormone-based  mood disorder.

PMS is also not classified as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), while PMDD is. 1 out of 20 women are affected by PMDD in her reproductive years. 

Let us learn more about PMDD, its symptoms, causes and how it is treated.

What are the symptoms of PMDD?

The symptoms of PMDD show up the week before menstruation period and usually go away after a few days after your period. If you have PMDD, you might experience some of the symptoms listed below:

Emotional symptoms

  • Extreme anxiety or depression
  • Irritability
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings 
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Feeling upset or tearful
  • Lack of energy

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Physical and behavioral  symptoms

  • Sleep problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Changes in your appetite such as overeating or having specific food cravings
  • Acne
  • Back problems
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cramps and bloating
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Reduced sex drive

You may experience only physical and behavioral symptoms or only emotional symptoms or both. Mainly the emotional symptoms can affect the daily life of menstruating women of any age.

They may experience difficulties while working and socializing. Due to anger with severe mood swings they might not be able to maintain healthy and happy relationships with others in school, college, workplace, or home. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts.

According to the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD), an estimated 15% of women with PMDD will attempt suicide in their lifetime. Transgender people have an even higher risk.

What are the causes of PMDD?

There is no proper evidence on what causes PMDD but some researchers believe that the following might be the causes related to the symptoms of PMDD.

  • Changes in hormone levels

Researchers believe that the changes in the behavior of women is the response due to an abnormal reaction to hormonal changes that occur during their monthly menstrual cycle.

  • Genetics

Some researchers believe that changes in hormone levels may be caused by genetic variations. In 2017, researchers at the National Institutes of Health discovered that people with PMDD have genetic changes that make their cells overreact to estrogen and progesterone and they believe this overreaction may be responsible for the symptoms of PMDD. 

What to do if you think you have PMDD?

A diagnosis of PMDD requires the presence of at least five of the symptoms that are listed above. 

If you think you have the symptoms, you could try some of the ways below to ease the discomfort:

  • Keeping the record of your symptoms in the diary as symptoms may vary from month to month. It would help you to treat PMDD accordingly.
  • Indulging yourself in aerobic physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or biking. It tends to improve mood and energy levels.
  • Considering herbal supplements. (Although there’s little scientific research on the effectiveness of herbal remedies for PMDD).
  • Having a proper and healthy diet and avoiding caffeine, salty snacks or alcohol, and eating smaller, and more frequent meals. This would improve your overall health.
  • Practicing yog. It includes deep breathing, meditation, and particular poses to warm the body. It would help you to detach from your symptoms and promote relaxation.
  • Taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs would help you to manage the physical symptoms of PMDD such as headaches, joint and muscle pains. Although you may be able to get these without a prescription from your doctor, it’s a good idea to discuss it with your doctor first to make sure that they’re suitable for you.

When Should you Seek Professional Treatment?

Even after practicing the self-help steps and making positive lifestyle changes, if you still find the PMDD symptoms getting worse, you have to seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. So, make an appointment to see a therapist or doctor for a thorough checkup to avoid devastating conditions.

You are not responsible for what you are going through but you are definitely responsible to treat yourself early and make efforts to prevent your symptoms from becoming worse.

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