Is the depression from the PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) that serious? Well, maybe. Perhaps you experience this scenario monthly….Your period starts and you find yourself all of a sudden plotting the ways and all the reasons why you should leave your partner or quit your job. Then all of a sudden two to three days in, you feel the heavy, gray cloud of depression lifted and life feels like it should be lived and not ended. Our therapists at Evanston Counseling specialize in treatment of PMS and PMS Depression, also known as PMDD. We’ll help you to find ways of dealing with the dark days of depression associated with your period.
You are painfully aware that this cycle of depression happens every month. And, maybe you’re tired of riding this roller coaster of emotions. Let’s see how you can change your lifestyle and thinking patterns to gain more joy in your month.
How can you tell the difference between PMS and PMS Depression (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)?
You’ve probably heard of Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS. Researchers say that about 75% of all menstruating women experience PMS. PMS is the series of behavioral, physical and emotional signs and symptoms which can occur about a week or two before your period starts.
However, you may not have heard about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD.
Though the signs and symptoms may look similar for both PMS and PMDD, the severity of the signs and symptoms separates these two premenstrual issues. Only 3-8% of menstruating women deal with PMDD. If you already suffer from anxiety or depression, you may be more likely to have PMDD.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe, sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt daily life and damage relationships.
The symptoms of PMDD look like this:
- Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
- Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
- Feelings of tension or anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings or crying often
- Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
- Trouble thinking or focusing
- Tiredness or low energy
- Food cravings or binge eating
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling out of control
- Physical symptoms, such as cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is commonly referred to as PMS Depression. Women report that the depression makes them feel:
- uninterested in sex
- like sleeping too much or too little
- like eating too much or too little
If you are battling with PMDD, you may experience a range of different mental health symptoms such as depression, suicidal feelings and anxiety.
Can you relate to any of this? Now, you can see the difference between PMS and PMDD. But, you may be wondering what causes both of these conditions.
What causes PMS Depression (PMDD)?
The hard part is that doctors can’t say for sure what causes Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. They can point to a few things that might influence your behavior and how you feel physically and emotionally. Here is a little insight into how you may be feeling.
Hormonal and neurotransmitter shifts
The changes in the level of the hormones progesterone and estrogen during your period affect your level of serotonin. Serotonin is sometimes referred to as a “feel good” neurotransmitter that your body makes. It helps you regulate your appetite, mood, and sleep needs. When your serotonin levels are lower than normal, your mood may tank, your body experiences intense cravings, and you don’t sleep with the same regularity.
What Can You Do to Ease the Depression Associated with Your Period?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In this article, we talk about the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for managing your depression. Our Evanston therapists can work with you to walk through the overwhelming depression you may feel at this time of the month. We’ll help you reframe your thoughts around your life, relationships, and job. They can also help you to cope and thrive, though you have ideas of suicide or feel the weight of anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a great treatment for PMS Depression.
Talk with your doctor about your symptoms associated with PPMD. They may want you to track your symptoms, the beginning and end dates of your period, and your mood. To make this tracking easier, check out these period-tracking apps recommended by gynecologists.
Once you determine with your doctor that your mood and period are linked, they may prescribe an antidepressant. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the class of drugs most commonly recommended for PMS Depression. This medication will block the amount of serotonin absorbed back into your body. This action leaves more serotonin available for your brain to use. These higher levels of serotonin help to increase your mood.
We can’t underestimate the impact of nutrition, physical activity, good sleep, and stress management on your mental and physical health.
Many lifestyle changes will moderate the physical symptoms, which will help your mood.
Nutrition and Supplements
Specialists advise that you focus on eating a variety of healthy foods. They also counsel that you limit sugary/salty foods and alcohol to better manage symptoms.
A clinical trial pointed at increased levels of calcium serving to help with PMS depression, changes in your appetite, and fatigue. Calcium can also be found in dairy products, leafy greens, fortified juices, and cereals.
Vitamin B6 found in fish, chicken, turkey, fruit, and fortified foods may help lessen the effect of PMDD symptoms.
Physical Activity/Stress Management
We’ve mentioned several times in our blogs how increasing physical movement ups your endorphins (another set of feel-good chemicals) and helps you to feel better and lower your stress.
This article from Harvard looks at how exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants in elevating your mood.
Our therapists can offer you several strategies to assist you in managing your stress, which will also help you to feel better.
Reach out to us…
Our therapists are here to walk with you through the emotional ups and downs in dealing with your period and through the treatment of PMS Depression.
If you’re feeling depressed and heavy about managing life every day and would like to explore how a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist at Evanston Counseling could help you, call us at (773) 983-8444 for a free, 15-minute phone conversation. We will listen and direct you to the right person to help you with therapy for PMDD. Or you can schedule a time to chat with us here to learn how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you better manage your PMS depression.