Let’s talk about the hidden battles of dealing with PMDD


As we all know, TikTok has a lot of information and new things to learn. But, one day, while I was scrolling through the app like I regularly do, I stumbled on a clip of Vicky Pattison on a Good Morning Britain episode talking about her experience with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Listing despair, hopelessness, chronic fatigue and many more as her symptoms, I developed a curiosity about her health condition. Like any sane person with a mobile phone, I went straight to Reddit to see if it was truly as common as Vicky described.

While going down a rabbit hole in a Reddit thread on PMDD, I found a post by Jessgxo4 about her experience with PMDD. This post struck me the most because it was written with so much sadness and felt very vivid. In the post, she said,

“I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety over the course of my life, but PMDD is nothing like what I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve felt down and sad, but when my luteal phase comes around, it’s straight-up hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. I know that in my right mind, I would never do anything, but my PMDD basically makes me feel like that is the only option. Everything is bleak; nothing matters, I’m worthless, I’m disgusting, etc. I would say this doesn’t last for more than one or two days. I’m usually fine the day before and can bounce back quickly now that I know what is happening. Every single time I check my period tracking app, it’s always 12 or 13 days before my period. Every. Single. Time. Checking it always brings me back to reality.”- Jessgxo4 on Reddit

While this is just an excerpt from the post, Jessgxo4 vividly described Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder as the most depressing and life-changing experience she has ever had. This is the case for many women all over the world.

What is PMDD?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a debilitating condition that affects millions of women worldwide. Despite its prevalence, PMDD is often misunderstood and overlooked, leading to significant challenges for those who suffer from it. PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) characterised by intense emotional and physical symptoms that occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, typically in the week or two leading up to menstruation. Unlike PMS, which may cause mild discomfort or mood changes, PMDD can significantly impair daily functioning and quality of life.

Just like Vicky Pattison, many women have been told that PMDD is just another type of PMS and that they’re just not strong enough to handle being a woman. However, this is not the case. PMDD has caused people to want to take their lives, and some women have checked themselves into mental hospitals because of the intensity of PMDD. PMDD is not just a severe form of PMS; it is a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously by women and medical practitioners.

Symptoms of PMDD

According to an article by Mind, the symptoms of PMDD manifest both physically and emotionally. These symptoms also vary from person to person, but they often include;

Emotional symptoms

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset or tearful
  • lack of energy
  • less interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • feeling hopeless
  • suicidal feelings
  • feeling angry or irritable
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling tense or on edge
  • feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • difficulty concentrating.

Physical symptoms

  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • pain in your muscles and joints
  • headaches
  • feeling bloated
  • changes in your appetite, such as overeating or having specific food cravings
  • sleep problems
  • increased anger or conflict with people around you
  • becoming very upset if you feel that others are rejecting you.

What women are saying

The symptoms of PMDD are often likened to the symptoms of PMS, and that’s why diagnosis often takes time. From TikTok videos to Reddit posts and Twitter threads, women with PMDD have described PMDD as PMS but much worse in comparison. In a Women’s Health article, here’s what a woman had to say about their experience with PMDD;

“PMDD is out of control. I cry really easily for about a week. My biggest issue is that I am convinced that I am failing at everything—being a wife, a mom, working on projects, and being physically fit my whole life! And even though it feels so real, I constantly have to question if my feelings are valid or if they are amplified by my cycle. I just set an alert in my phone to remind me to consider my hormones the next time I feel that way.” – Krysten B

“This has impacted my ability to work effectively. My pet peeve is when people say, ‘it must be close to your time of the month,’ when they simply don’t like what I’m saying. I have run into that problem a lot at previous jobs, making it really hard to take it seriously. It’s bullshit because my feelings are valid regardless, and also PMDD is not a joke. I am so lucky now to have a male boss who understands, but it wasn’t always that way. I have also found a lot of relief with naturopathic and herbal remedies.” – Amalia F 28

“I’m overly emotional for the week before my period. Saying that makes it sound like it’s not that bad, but I get so distraught that my fiance has actually scheduled it on his phone as  ‘blood sport’ to remind himself what’s coming. I’m thankful that he’s patient because I also feel like everyone hates me that week, too.” – Kenlie T

Causes of PMDD

According to a paper in the Journal of  Affective Disorders, an estimated amount of 1.6% of women and girls have symptomatic PMDD. The exact cause of PMDD is not fully understood, but it is believed to be linked to hormonal fluctuations that occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Changes in serotonin levels in the brain may also play a role in the development of PMDD, as serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, and appetite.

There are major gaps between the treatment and the mechanism, which has made finding the root cause of PMDD deeply complex. Currently, the evidence-based treatment for PMDD is largely focused on serotonergic-based antidepressants and estrogen-based contraceptives. However, the underlying mechanisms for new treatment is something that has become a challenge to obtain for many scientists.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing PMDD involves ruling out other medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms and tracking symptoms over several menstrual cycles. Once diagnosed, treatment options for PMDD may include:

1. Medications: Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are often prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of PMDD. Hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, may also be recommended to regulate hormonal fluctuations.

2. Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and other forms of talk therapy can help individuals learn coping strategies to manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.

3. Lifestyle Changes: Regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress-reduction techniques (such as mindfulness or meditation), and maintaining a healthy diet can all help alleviate symptoms of PMDD.

4. Alternative Therapies: Some individuals find relief from PMDD symptoms through alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, or dietary supplements (e.g., calcium, magnesium, or vitamin B6).

If you or someone you know is grappling with PMDD, it’s crucial to seek support from a healthcare professional. They can provide personalised guidance and treatment options tailored to your needs. So, self-hating, suicidal feelings, murderous rage and extreme tiredness are not normal feelings, especially when they manifest shortly before your period. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. With the right diagnosis and support, relief from PMDD symptoms is attainable, leading to a better quality of life.


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