Supercharged PMS: What you need to know about PMDD

 

 

Anyone who has ever experienced menstruation can and will tell you that it is hell. Dealing with cramps, emotional changes, bleeding, and every other seemingly endless symptom already seems impossible, but for some people “that time of the month” also means heightened depression, lethargy, and sleep disorders.

 

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PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, is a cyclical depressive disorder, meaning that symptoms will begin and end in conjunction with menstrual cycles. PMDD affects around 3-9% of menstruating women, and symptoms start around ovulation and end shortly after the start of the period, making PMDD a sort of “supercharged PMS.” The American Psychological Association lists symptoms such as:

 

  • Markedly depressed mood (a symptom of MDD is depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day)

  • Decreased interest in usual activities

  • Lethargy, fatigability or lack of energy

  • Hypersomnia or insomnia

 

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Menstruation can worsen other pre existing disorders like depression and migraines, so many of PMDD symptoms become discounted as other symptoms or simply attributed to menstrual symptoms. Those who experience PMDD are also at a higher risk for developing major depression and often already experience depression, anxiety, or seasonal affective disorder.

 

As someone who already experiences intense menstrual symptoms and depression, the heightened symptoms can prove almost insurmountable.

 

I have been depressed for the majority of a decade, but I didn’t link the increased hopelessness and suicidal thoughts with my menstrual cycle until my senior year of high school. Encouragement from a therapist led me to seek treatment in the form of birth control, though there are other options. Birth control proved to be the best choice for me, and has greatly eased my PMDD episodes.

 

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Periods are hard enough without depressive disorders. If you think you fit the description of PMDD, don’t hesitate to seek treatment or support. Groups such as The National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and DailyStrengh Groups offer supportive outlets for those affected by PMDD.

About The Author

Anna Ratliff is a Junior at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. She studies studio art and visual communication as a double major with concentrations in ceramics and visual rhetoric, respectively. She enjoys knitting, sleeping, and spending way too much time looking at pictures of chickens.