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Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS symptoms cause only mild to moderate discomfort and require little or no treatment and disappears within a few days on the onset of periods. PMDD on the other hand can begin atleast 14-10 days before a period.
Symptoms can include a very depressed mood, feeling hopeless, marked anxiety, tension, edginess, sudden mood shifts (crying easily, extreme sensitivity), persistent, marked irritability, anger, increased conflicts, loss of interest in usual activities (work, school, socialising, etc.), difficulty concentrating and staying focused, fatigue, tiredness, loss of energy, marked appetite change, overeating, food cravings, insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or sleeping too much, feeling out of control or overwhelmed, physical symptoms such as weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness or swelling, headache, and muscle or joint aches and pains. (Information as quoted from http://pmdd.factsforhealth.org/what/symptoms.asp)
Some of the symptoms mimic depression only difference is it only hits several days before a period and disappears with the onset of bleeding.
Soon after a year of starting my periods I would start to suffer painful heavy periods, 7 days of bleeding, regular every month, same hell every month, trying out painkillers dolled out by the GP, finally being sent to a gynaecologist who concluded the pill could help. I started periods at 10 and from age 11 to now at 26 I'm still suffering painful periods though with the painkiller Naproxen I seem to suffer just a day and half of severe pain though it makes my tummy feel weird but it makes the pain less so it dont bother me. In my teens I had an ultrasound and was told everything looked ok inside and I was put on the pill at age 15. My mum was dead against this but thought if it helps I should try it cause the specialist said so. At this point you must be wondering why I am going on about my painful periods, there is a point to this. My PMDD was not diagnosed till much later mainly cause I didn't recognise my symptoms earlier on.
I think my problems stemmed from being on the pill or from suffering with the painful periods for so long, I became withdrawn, depressed, aggressive, always feeling hungry all the time even when I had just eaten, felt unfit (breathless) found it hard to be my active self, I put on a bit of weight and then started to refuse to chew my food, I got tired of eating altogether. I was also feeling suicidal too. Mum noticed I was getting depressed and the pill was not helping me at all. Seriously the pill did nothing for me I was on it for 3 years and tried two different types, but I was still in so much pain. So I don't understand why anyone would want to be on the pill being pumped with hormones, it seriously can not be good. Do you really want to try every type till you find one that suits you? Not me.
After the pill I never really recovered, I had just started University at this point. For a week I would be fine, socializing, taking interest, normal happy self, then the next 2 weeks would turn me into a different person, I would self-destruct, depressed, withdrawing from people and social events, loose my temper, be sarcastic, clumsy, forgetful, confused, suffer migraines, mood swings, loose interest in things, unable to concentrate, feel like fainting, lack of energy, nausea, sleepless nights, wanting to sleep in the day, aching body, panic attacks, on edge, and heading closer to my period suicidal thoughts and wanting to self harm. Then with the onset of period, feels like a cloud has lifted and mentally I'm fine again, but physically drained as I have to deal with period too. Then the cycle begins again. Same thing every month and some how I manage to survive it.
I actually thought I was suffering depression because of suffering painful periods for so long, so then I started to do my own research to find something to help with the painful periods, amending my diet (not much I could do except cut dairy when due on as it makes me nauseous as I eat healthy as it is). While looking for remedies I came across PMS and PMDD and after reading about PMDD it finally clicked this is what it happening with me as I'm not depressed all the time.
I started doing yoga to make me feel a bit better even though the effects only last for an hour or so before I plunge into darkness again, even tried St John's Wort for a couple of months, did not notice a thing. I also bided my time, I knew what my GP was like and knew I would not be taken seriously, so I waited for a women GP to start up a practice in the area. I was unsure if I would be taken seriously. Following NAPS (National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome) organisation's advice I kept a diary of my symptoms and took my local PMS specialist's address and explained to her I think I'm suffering severe PMS, explained my symptoms and that I want to be referred to the PMS specialist. She hardly knew anything about the condition and then went on to her computer to see what she could prescribe. She asked me a series of questions about my symptoms, family, relationships, and employment. I was then prescribed Fluoxetine (Prozac) and she sent the referral.
The fluoxetine just numbed me, I felt like my feelings were trapped and couldn't release them, also made me more anxious Saw the gynaecologist 3 months from when I was referred. We went over my health history, relationships, family, employment. She would not want to do much with me as I was young and had no kids yet. So I tried Prozac, Yasmin, and Danazol throughout a course of a year. Now back to Prozac to try control my symptoms as my options of treatment runs out. Now I feel totally lost and losing hope as I feel so alone. Had counselling too, but she made me cry and didn't understand at all, I never went back.
It's hard to go through as a woman constantly suffering with it and also hard for partners, family and friends to understand and put up with. As a woman you self-destruct, loose confidence in yourself, struggle to lead a normal life, alienate the ones you love, feel constantly alone as no one else knows what you're going through. Feel insane and think your going mad. I know because I talk more to a few trusted friends and hardly to my family. My family just doesn't get it, mum just thinks I'm still trying to sort out painful periods she doesn't understand the mental implications I'm suffering monthly, they make fun of me time of month and all that, but it's obviously not funny when they bare the brunt of my angry outbursts, I hide away and just sob my heart out that I'm so alone in all this.
I never realised how hard a partner has it till this year when I met someone after so long on my own. I avoided relationships because I guess no one ever stuck around so long. I felt alone and scared I would end up alone so I took the plunge. My boyfriend wants to support me and sometimes I will just cry on him and he would try to understand but doesn't quite get it. Other times I try to avoid him, especially phone calls, because I know I'm going to blubber all over my phone and want to be alone. We have had one big argument so far and I nearly ended it, because he weren't there when I needed his support the most, I felt somewhat abandoned. I held this against him for a good while before we got back together. Now he's just so worried for me all the time, he knows I'm unstable now that I don't have any treatment options left. I feel guilty for putting him through it with me. Good thing he is there for me to confide in, not much family support. Not really vented my frustrations at him yet, guess that comes later in the living together part as my family bares the brunt of it right now. Is it because I love them so much that I want to just hurt them so badly? No one else suffers as badly as they do.
This condition tore my life apart I struggled throughout my education even thought I managed to get good grades through school and college. University was a really struggle failing units, retaking them in summer. Then second year I failed units again and was told I can't get into final year leaving with a choice of retake the whole year or just take the failed exam again. Thought my whole world had ended I broke down because I was suffering from PMDD so I was extra sensitive and took the news so badly with a panic attack. Later I had retaken the exam again and passed then decided to move to a University near home to do the final year. I thought it would help but I don't think anything would have, I lost interest and stop talking to my parents in the process. Don't know how I got through and gained my degree that year. Employment wise has always been a problem because I suffer so badly hard to concentrate and dealing with physical symptoms.
It frustrates me there is lack of Knowledge, help and understanding out there for this condition. There are some of us who trying to get treated and some who just don't know they are suffering with this at all. My new years resolution this year was to actually stay alive this year because I really don't think I will last another year with this condition.