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PMDD: A little-known but debilitating condition

Photo by Lizeth Amaya for The Circular

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a severe form of the more known Premenstrual disorder, or PMS.

Experiencing symptoms of PMS was not rare for me. I’ve been living with PMS for a long time now and I have even noticed how it has changed over the years, some symptoms disappeared and other appeared as I grew old. When I was a teenager, the main symptom would be breast tenderness and pain, in my twenties I noticed that I could be a little too sensitive and would crave specific types of foods before my period. In my thirties I do not only deal with breast tenderness and pain and feeling sensitive, but I also feel very tired, I find it difficult to concentrate and to retain information. But honestly, I was so used to it that I never thougth about it as a problem or a condition, but simply something I needed to deal with every month. Until last December.

Photo and Infographic by Lizeth Amaya for The Circular

In December 2021 I started treatment to adjust my hormones for ovulation to happen. Among other hormone imbalances, my prolactin levels were high which can cause infertility I took Dostinex once a week for about three months to lower my prolactin.

Photo by Lizeth Amaya, for The Circular

By the second month on the medication, I noticed that I was feeling very anxious, and the tiredness and inability to focus prior my period were also more noticeable.

I knew something was wrong, but I could not understand what it was.
I called my doctor to ask her about it and she said the treatment I was taking had exacerbated my PMS symptoms. While doing research trying to understand what I was going trhough I found out about Severe PMS or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), which many women experience every single month.

A depressed mood, mood swings, crying spells and even suicidal thougths are common symptoms of PMDD.

I am now finished with my treatment and I am no longer struggling with severe PMS, however, this is a condition that women around the world live with.

In 2019, the Irish Examiner reported that up to 6% women live with PMDD after the World Health Organisation recognised PMDD as a “little- known but debilitating condition”.

Photo By Lizeth amaya, for The Circular

Women around the world who suffer from PMDD are using social media to raise awareness and help other women.

If you think you may suffer from PMDD, tell your doctor. Keeping a journal of your symptoms once you noticed them may help to identify a pattern and to make or discard the diagnosis. Please remember every women is different and symptoms may vary from one to another.

If you know somebody diagnosed with PMDD and you wish to learn more about it, watch this short video where Doctors Peter Schmidt and Doctor David Goldman explain what happens during PMDD.

Schimdt and Goldmand, from the National Institute of Mental Healt (NIH) in America point out how women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder do not experience different hormones levels from those who do not suffer from it. Instead, women with PMDD appear to be more sensitive to the normal changes that every women go trhough during their cycle. However the cause of this condition is not well understood yet.

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