PMS, PMDD & Perimenopause - What Is It & How Some Women Manage Serious Symptoms
Are your hormones holding you captive?
What is PMS
PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome, refers to a wide range of symptoms that affect millions of women in the child-bearing years. These symptoms usually start during the second half of the menstrual cycle (14 days or more after the first day of your last period), and go away about 1 to 2 days after the new menstrual period begins.
The most common symptoms of PMS include the following:
- Breast Tenderness
- Change in Bowel Movements
- Food Cravings
- Loss of Sex Drive
- Drastic Mood Swings
- Sleep Problems
Could you be suffering from PMDD?
Do you feel you suffer from atleast 5 of these symptoms for more than 3 days per month?
What is PMDD
PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, is a much more severe form of PMS that affects 3-8% of women in their reproductive years. Women who suffer usually notice symptoms more during the luteal phase, which is the latter phase of the menstrual cycle after ovulation occurs. The main hormone associated with this stage is progesterone, which is significantly high during the luteal phase. PMDD is a psychiatric diagnosis and is considered to be one of the affective disorders, “depressive disorder not otherwise specified.”
The most common symptoms of PMDD include the following:
- Feelings of Extreme Sadness/Despair, Suicidal Thoughts
- Extreme Tension/Anxiety/Panic Attacks
- Extreme Sensitivity
- Severe and Rapid Mood Swings/Bouts of Crying
- Lasting Irritability and Feelings of Anger
- Loss of Interest in Daily Life
- Trouble Concentrating
- Severe Fatigue/
- Food Cravings/Binge Eating
- Sleep Issues
- Drastic Changes in Sex Drive
- Breast Tenderness or Swelling
- Joint of Muscle Pain
- Heart Palpitations
Typically PMDD emerges in women in their 20’s and may worsen over time; it has been observed that some women may experience worsening premenstrual symptoms as they enter into the menopause phase.
Perimenopause is a time of transition when a woman's ovaries start to slow down the production of hormones. It may be as soon as her 30s, or it may not be until sometime in her 40s or even 50s. Regardless of when symptoms begin, actual menopause may still be years away. That's a long time to suffer and can take its toll on any woman, both mentally and physically. I particularly am close to this as at the young age of 38, I have been thrown into what feels like a neverending emotional roller-coaster ride. It is not a fun ride. It has caused much turmoil in my relationships with family and friends, and is beginning to affect my job. This is how severe a level the PMDD can reach. So where are we to turn?
As no two women are alike, sometimes many different treatment alternatives must be tried out to determine whether it will help you. Much like medications, it simply becomes a game of trial and error. Unfortunately, these trial periods can feel like a lifetime, especially for those women who already struggle with Depression.
Non-medicinal Methods of Coping:
- Keep a journal/log of each month's symptoms
- Dietary limits, such as intake of Caffeine, Sugar & Sodium
- Regular aerobic exercise
- Nutritional supplements, such as Calcium and B6
- Herbal remedies *Still being studied/researched for effectiveness
- Regular Psychotherapy
- Oral Contraceptives or Hormone Therapy
- Anti-depressants that are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Most importantly, see your doctor and do not give up. Someone will listen and acknowledge your symptoms. It may take time, but the hope is that each woman finds some sort of peace during what can be the most difficult of times. God Bless.