What is PMDD?
Below is a definition of PMDD that is so great, we couldn't have said it better ourselves!
IAMPD is a great resource for those that have PMDD & PME, and you should check out more of their content here.
"Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (also known as Premenstrual Dysphoria, Late Luteal Phase Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD) is a cyclical, hormone-based mood disorder with symptoms arising during the premenstrual, or luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and lasting until the onset of menstrual flow. It affects an estimated 2-10% of women of reproductive age. While PMDD is directly connected to the menstrual cycle, it is not a hormone imbalance. PMDD is a severe negative reaction to the natural rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. It is a suspected cellular disorder with symptoms often worsening over time and sometimes worsening around reproductive events such as menarche, pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, and peri-menopause. Those with PMDD are at increased risk for suicidal behavior. Many, but not all, women with PMDD have a history of sexual trauma or depression. There is no blood or saliva test to diagnose PMDD although these tests can rule out other underlying disorders. The only way to diagnose PMDD is by tracking symptoms for at least two menstrual cycles." Dr. Lisa Hantsoo, IAPMD
Symptoms of PMDD
Symptoms of PMDD occur 1-2 weeks before menstruation - that's when the luteal phase, or "hell week" kicks in. Here's a list of symptoms a person with PMDD can experience:
Depression or feelings of hopelessness
Intense anger and conflict with other people
Tension, anxiety, and irritability
Decreased interest in usual activities
Change in appetite
Feeling out of control
Cramps and bloating
Joint or muscle pain
Below is a great graphic describing just where exactly the luteal phase/ hell week(s) falls in the Ovarian Cycle.
Want to learn about the menstrual cycle? Check out this article from Clue.
Why PMDD is Debilitating
PMDD is a disorder that takes up essentially half of your month, every month, and naturally, this would take a huge mental toll on a person. However, the real zinger is that it doesn't just impact your professional and social life, but it directly effects, your relationships with romantic partners, friends, and family. Which makes things even more difficult, because when you create friction in those relationships with loved ones, it becomes that much harder to get the support you truly need in your luteal phase.
PMDD has little research dedicated to the disorder, which makes treatment options pretty scarce, as these recommendations, such as SSRIs, are used to treat other mental disorders, and there is no specific cure for PMDD.
Another reason as to why dealing with PMDD is difficult, is due to the stigma of mental illnesses and the conversations around it, especially in the medical community. As a society we have progressed and have opened up about mental health, without a doubt, but what's never taken into consideration with the respect its needed, is the menstrual effects on mental health.
To receive support in one's healing journey, awareness is the first step, and unfortunately, most people have never heard of PMDD and what it is- and that desperately needs to change.
That's why "period" was created when it was founded in 2020-
to help ignite the change we need to see in menstruation related mental health issues.
Functional Medicine + PMDD
At "period", we're in the business of solving problems, and now that we have explained what PMDD is, and why it is a debilitating disorder, let's talk about a path one can take in their healing journey.
Functional medicine has become all the rage in the alternative medical community. It is different in that it does not cover up symptoms, but it promotes holistic healing. That being said, we wanted to take this approach to helping those that suffer with PMDD. One of the main concepts of functional medicine is that healing the gut heals the mind, therefore inflammation in the gut can cause a plethora of issues in the mind. Right now you can check out the principles of functional medicine in the Instagram live series "Functional Medicine + PMDD", where Dr. Jose R. Fernandez, M.D., of JMJ Family Practice and Natalia Fernandez discuss the topic as a dynamic father-daughter duo. (Talk about getting men involved in the conversation!) Viewers can check out the installments of the 5 Pillars of Health, designed exclusively by Dr. Fernandez! We hope "period" inspires you to courageously start your healing journey, and equips you with information that can help develop your personalized treatment plan.
Gaither, K. (2018, July 07). Sexual Health: Your Guide to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/women/pms/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder
Hantsoo, L., Dr. (2019). What is PMDD. Retrieved 2020, from https://iapmd.org/about-pmdd
Laurie Ray, D. (2020, July 01). The menstrual cycle, explained. Retrieved 2020, from https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/the-menstrual-cycle-more-than-just-the-period