My Experience With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
PMDD is short for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It is a severe form of PMS. Both PMS and PMDD are characterized by unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms that occur in the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, most commonly in the days preceding the menstrual period. Fatigue, mood changes, irritability, and abdominal bloating are among the most common symptoms of PMS and PMDD, but numerous other symptoms have been reported. Whereas the symptoms of PMS may be troubling and unpleasant, PMDD may cause severe, debilitating symptoms that interfere with a woman's ability to function.
PMS is much more common than PMDD. PMS may affect to 30% of women with regular menstrual cycles, while only 3% to 8% of these women have true PMDD.
PMDD has been previously medically referred to as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder.
What causes it?
Although the precise cause of PMS and PMDD is unknown, it is believed that these conditions result from the interaction of hormones produced by the ovaries at different stages in the menstrual cycle (such as estrogen and progesterone) with the neurotransmitters (chemicals that serve as messengers) in the brain. While the ovarian hormone levels are normal in women with PMDD, it is likely that the brain's response to these normally-fluctuating hormone levels is abnormal.
Most evidence suggests that PMS and PMDD do not result from any specific personality traits or personality types. While stress clearly is associated with PMS and PMDD, it is not considered to be a cause of PMDD. Rather, the associated stress is more likely to be a result of the symptoms of PMS or PMDD. Vitamin or other nutritional deficiencies have not been shown to cause PMS or PMDD.
My Experience with PMDD and What Happened
Over twenty years ago, at the age of sixteen, I was feeling desperate. I was suddenly experiencing very irritable and angry feelings for no reason, and some depression which got worse over time.
I was diagnosed manic depressive/ bipolar but I’ve wondered over the years why because mania is usually exhibited with not only agitation but with feelings of euphoria or elation including going on spending sprees, feeling invincible, and feeling overly sexual or hyper sexual which is not being able to control your sexual impulses- none of which did I have. I had $1600 in the bank and was not sexually active.
About a few years ago, I happened to hear about PMDD on hubpages and then a friend told me more about it.
I ran across the Doctor/Psychiatrist who diagnosed me 20 years ago last May 2013, during my last hospitalization at the same initial hospital.
I questioned him and told him I believed I had PMDD, and that I had recently been tracking my symptoms around my periods.
He said he didn’t know what Pmdd was. He stated to me, "Bipolar people are really nasty and mean.” He said he was convinced I was bipolar.
I don’t think I’m a nasty and mean person, but maybe my irritability came across that way, though I had not hurt anyone- just rebelled with my dad. I could not get far with that- believe you me! He’s not tolerant of any rebellious behavior. Either way, it’s good I got help, but was it the right help?
I was on Lithium, a mood stabilizer for bipolar, for twenty years. After I started taking Lamictal though, (I was taken off Lithium as Lamictal worked better for me and my body was no longer tolerating lithium.) For the first time in 20 yrs I was not irritable everyday. Lithium made me worse actually now that I look back of course.
After getting off lithium, I noticed I wasn’t irritable as often and the delusions or strange conclusions I had previously come to on a regular basis from overanalyzing, had stopped. People online than had known me and friends in real life noticed I had changed greatly and liked the "new me". Lithium had made me worse. But what I noticed after getting off it, was I felt very rageful, irritable, depressed and suicidal (and paranoid ) 2 weeks BEFORE my period.
My doctor refused to prescribe me Effexor which is (as I looked up online) the BEST medicine for PMDD. It’s actually an antidepressant and when you’re said to be bipoar, doctors worry you’ll get manic being on an antidepressant.
Well, needless to say, after experiencing months of torturous cycles (every two weeks before my menstruation- which I tracked on my calendar), I was fed up and worn out from Pmdd! I was so desperate, I agreed to take lithium again, which I had gotten off of, 15 months before. (Bad choice, as my brother Joe told me later, and I whole heartedly agree, but what was I to do? My doctor refused me Effexor.)
But later on, I discovered that Depakote works even better for me than Effexor. I've been on Depakote for a year and two months. I tracked my period moods for one whole year and the longer I was on Depakote, the less symptoms I had.
In order to accurately assess your premenstrual symptoms, it is important for us to review the pattern of your symptoms over time.
After you complete 2 months of charting, you should call your gynecologist to set up your first appointment. (You may want to call and make your appt. ahead of time considering most appointments are made 1-3 weeks in advance.)
1. Beginning tracking your premenstrual symptoms with this chart today, filling it out
every day (preferably at the end of your day) until your appointment.
A full menstrual cycle (28 – 40 days) of charting will allow for a more accurate assessment.
2. When you have menstrual bleeding, mark this with
an “X” in the “Menses” column. When you have “spotting” (very light bleeding),
mark this with an “S” in the “Menses” column. When you are not bleeding, leave the “menses” column empty for that day.
3. Every day, rate what you have experienced under ALL of the column headings. Do not look at your ratings from the previous day,
(covering previous ratings with another piece of paper is helpful) so that you rate each day
individually – do not rate your day’s experience compared to yesterday or previous days.
RATING SCALE: Not at all = 0 Mild = 1 Moderate = 2 Severe = 3
Sleep = rate severity and note increase with “↑” and decrease with “↓”
Appetite = rate severity and note increase with “↑” and decrease with “↓”
Physical Symptoms = symptoms like headache, bloating, cramping, backache, breast tenderness
How to track your menstrual symptoms monthly
Lack of Interest
Lack of energy
Bipolar and PMDD had similar symptoms and can be confused one for the other or you could have both
I hope this hub helps with the information provided and with my own personal story, perhaps it might even help doctors in the future from understanding the difference between bipolar and pmdd. Since pmdd is not much talked about by many doctors, I hope to raise awareness to it and maybe in the future some women may find out about it earlier than I.
The good part is that I finally am on the right medication and that it is helping me greatly so that I am living a very functional life, much better than I have since I was sixteen. I'm happy that there are treatments for it, and I also know that things like exercise, healthy diet, and lots of vitamins help. I take a multivitamin which all people should do in my opinion, and also fish oil. I'm sure I'll learn more about it in times to come and I'll be sure to post what I learn to be even more helpful.
I stated above that I've been on Depakote for a year and 2 months. This is my "miracle medicine". I feel 100% better. I am peaceful and I am enjoying life and not dealing with suicidal depressions anymore or rage.
Professional Advice for Pmdd
One's woman story!
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