Living with PMDD | Laura's Mental Health Story | Mind

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Hi, my name’s Laura and I suffer from PMDD and that stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, which is a cyclical mood disorder caused by a sensitivity to your hormone fluctuations between ovulation and your period. So generally that’s about two weeks a month that people suffer from it.

Symptoms are basically, imagine PMS but on steroids to the point where it’s just completely unmanageable. So instead of being irritable people are crawling in their skin. Instead of being depressed you’re chronically depressed and can’t get out of bed. Anxiety is through the roof. Rage, anger for some people. There’s also some physical side effects that some people get. Not everyone suffers from those but they can be more extreme. My physical side effects tend to come more from the anxiety, so palpitations and dizziness, weakness. And fatigue is a big one and I sleep a lot just as I’m coming up to my time of the month.

So for me my PMDD – I think – started at around 17 when I went on the contraceptive pill. And it was a pretty instant reaction. From that day forward basically I had panic attacks and bouts of depression for the next 20 years. I had bad reactions to most contraceptive pills and the Mirena coil also made quite a lot of my hair fall out. I was chronically depressed and suicidal for about 18 months.

In my twenties I think I was losing about two days a month. It was pretty horrible but it was bearable. Then as I came into my thirties it just became more chronic, to the point where I was losing three days going into this depression, about five or six days really unable to cope or manage, just completely overwhelmed, and then about three days to recover from it. And all this time I was being told “It’s just PMS” so I thought it was just me being weak – which is a really common story. Most GPs haven’t heard of PMDD.

A lightbulb moment came when I read about PMDD online and I joined a peer support group – UK PMDD support – which I now run. I got a referral to a specialist and 18 months down the line I’m not responding to anything so I’m just about to have a hysterectomy in the next couple of months.

So my advice would be if you think you suffer from PMDD; join a Facebook support group. If you just type PMDD in the search bar there’s loads of tips. There’s loads of groups for absolutely everyone. Download a tracker, a period tracker and start tracking your symptoms daily to see if you notice that change in yourself in between ovulation and around your period. It doesn’t always stop on that day, for some people it runs over.

Do get in contact if I can help. Thank you. Bye!


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