Joanna is the Junior Wellness Lead for SSEDITORIAL Magazine, specialising…
Do you ever feel like a completely different person just before your period? As if someone turned on a switch, you become irritable and moody.
For most women, PMS symptoms like that are a normal inconvenience. But for others, negative emotions turn extreme, and when the period finally comes, it feels like a dark cloud dissipated, like you can be yourself again and go back to your daily life.
If you ever experience signs of depression just before your period, you might have what’s known as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). You might suffer from mood swings, increased anxiety and lack of energy. You might feel hopeless and even suicidal.
I’ve never been diagnosed with PMDD, but it’s not a condition every healthcare professional is familiar with. However, I can relate to feeling like my world crumbles just because I’m going through hormonal changes. Every month about a week before I start bleeding, I suddenly feel like nothing makes sense anymore. I struggle to complete my work, I just want to stay in bed, and I’m lucky if I can force myself to be productive (some days are better the others).
I used to forget this monthly ordeal, and when my period would finally come, it was like, “Oh. This is what it was.” Now I remind myself that it will all pass soon, and I know how to deal with it.
Eventually, I learned that preparation is the key. I downloaded an app that allows me to track my cycle and mood and noticed a pattern. While I can’t change my condition, I can always learn to manage the symptoms.
If you experience PMDD too, there are some steps you can take to minimise the negative impact.
Be Prepared for PMDD in Advance
Firstly, it’s important to prepare yourself ahead of time. Apart from keeping an eye out on symptoms and where you’re in the cycle, it’s important to build a routine that can make it all more bearable. For example, make sure you’re extra productive a week before so that you can cut yourself some slack later on. You can also plan more enjoyable activities to do that week and prioritise staying relaxed instead of completing a to-do list.
Remember, PMDD is a valid disorder, not laziness. Be gentle with yourself, and don’t try to push through the fatigue; have as many hot baths as it takes and watch a comforting TV series. Basically, treat yourself as you do when you have the flu.
Watch Your Diet
Secondly, try to eat healthily. This one is far from easy, I know. Right before my period, all I want to eat is fast food and cakes, especially when I start feeling down, but it makes it way worse in the end. The good news is that you can always replace your favourite chocolate with dark chocolate that contains magnesium known to reduce symptoms of depression. Thank god for 95% cocoa. A fruit smoothie is also a tasty but healthy treat. It’s also a good idea to start taking supplements, such as fish oil, which doctors believe boosts your mood.
Find PMDD Support Groups on Facebook
Lastly, joining a support group on Facebook has been a great help. Many people misunderstand PMDD. Other women might tell you that they feel down before their periods too when they mean PMS, and some doctors might even invalidate your experience. It also feels unfair.
If the symptoms affect you deeply, it’s like you lose a week or more of your life every single month. It might feel like whenever you progress in your career; you always have to take a step back. This is depressing, and the more depressed you feel, the worse your PMDD will be. This is why I recommend connecting with other women who share similar experiences. Learning about the condition from people who live with it can give you a sense of closure and support.
And if it affects you really badly (some women have to take days off work), it’s worth speaking to a doctor.
Joanna is the Junior Wellness Lead for SSEDITORIAL Magazine, specialising in mental health, wellness and lifestyle. In her spare time, she likes to write scripts and dance.