When it’s more than just PMS

How you ever heard of Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)? If nope, you’re not alone. I had never even heard of PMDD until a few years ago.

But when I did, I had a clear aha moment.

I knew then that in hindsight I had experienced episodes of PMDD when I was sleep deprived with young kids and burnt out

So what on earth is PMDD? It involves severe mood changes in second half of cycle with intrusive dark thoughts, fits of rage, panic attacks, brain fog, self harm… it is very, very debilitating. 

PMDD is an internationally recognised disorder affecting 1 in 20 of people who bleed. But in my opinion that the figure is wayyyyy higher but people just don’t talk about their mental health enough

Quality of life is really affected with sufferers only feeling “normal” for the first half of their cycle.

So what causes PMDD? We sadly don’t know for sure. There are a number of theories and it really is different for every person. Factors include:

  • oestrogen dominance (meaning you have more oestrogen in relation to your progesterone levels)
  • general inflammation in the body which can be further exacerbated by histamine intolerance
  • a problem with GABA receptors in the brain which are having trouble responding to different levels of progesterone
  • there’s also a genetic disposition to PMDD

Is this a life sentence? Not necessarily. For many women they can improve their symptoms dramatically by using techniques such as:

  • Eating a balanced diet – each meal should have 50% ? veggies (yes 50%!), protein and healthy fats along with your healthy carbs, plus and eat sloooooowly
  • Prioritising your sleep 
  • Find ways to soothe your nervous system – take 5 mins daily rest, set an alarm on your phone to take 10 deep slow breathes, abdominal massage, EFT/tapping, time in nature
  • Supplements – as I always say, supplements are just that, supplemental to all the other good stuff you’re doing for your sleep, nutrition and stress levels. Commonly recommended supplements are Magnesium, B vitamins, Vit D3/K2, Ashwagandha but remember to use your common senses peeps and check with your doctor before starting any supplements. I share more about supplements here.

Remember what helps each person will be different.

Getting the right support for PMDD is key and it’s wonderful that there are organisations such as IAPMD and Vicious Cycle who are working to change PMDD lives. I highly recommend the online community Luna Hub founded by PMDD sufferer Clare Knox.

If these symptoms don’t sound familiar to you, perhaps they may ring true for a friend or family member and I’d urge you to forward them this article or chat to them about PMDD sometime so together we can raise awareness and get women the help they deserve.

Many women with PMDD or PMS found that my 6-week course Embrace Your Cyclical Power was a game changing in understanding themselves and how to manage their moods. I’m thrilled that Clare Knox from Luna Hub is one of our guest experts sharing her wisdom on PMDD.

“PMS kind of switched me into a Mr Hyde every month and I was very upset about it - I felt I was fighting a losing battle of self-control. Now I have learned to be kinder to myself and I can handle PMS and perimenopause much better”.

Christel Ong, Massage Therapist, Singapore