Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are different despite their similarities in symptoms. While both are characterized by food cravings, moodiness, and fatigue, PMDD patients can suffer from debilitating symptoms that often interfere with their personal and professional lives.
But don’t let it get in your way of achieving a happy and productive life even when it comes on a monthly basis! You can start by educating yourself about its causes, symptoms and treatments.
No Known Exact Causes
Scientists have yet to discover the exact causes of PMDD. But many think that its symptoms are the result of an abnormal reaction to the changes in hormones connected to the menstrual cycle.
PMDD may also be connected to low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain crucial in the transmission of nerve signals. In fact, it’s used by certain brain cells in regulating attention, mood and sleep, even pain, so the decreased serotonin levels can result in PMDD symptoms.
Debilitating Symptoms Last for Days
Sadly, the symptoms of PMDD are usually so severe that these can debilitating. You may even be prevented from performing your daily activities unless you do something about it. Your symptoms may show up a week before your period starts and last for a few days during your period.
You may want to make a journal of your symptoms as your doctor or nurse can use the information for a proper diagnosis. You can write down when these started, how long these stayed, and how severe these were.
The symptoms can include mood swings, depression, intense anger resulting in conflict, tension, anxiety, fatigue, and feeling out of control. You may also observe changes in your eating and sleeping patterns, as well as cramps, bloating, and headaches.
Hope Comes in Many Forms
There’s hope that PMDD will not affect your life as much as it does now. You and your doctor will discuss the pros and cons as well as the details of the available treatments including:
- Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like sertraline can lessen the feelings of hopelessness, among other symptoms
- Anti-inflammatory medicines may be recommended
- Vitamin supplements can be added to your healthy diet
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin may be used for pain management
- Hormone therapy including the use of birth control pills
- Regular exercise, even brisk walking for 30 minutes a day will suffice
- Healthy diet with more emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as reduced intake of sugar and salt
- Management of stress since it can worsen the severity of the symptoms
While you may have little control over your body’s response to your menstruation, you can still adopt measures that will alleviate your symptoms.