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How to Cope With PMDD

PMDD: My Dirty Little Secret

Three years ago I was diagnosed with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) — it's sort of like PMS on overdrive, except way worse. Before the diagnosis I was embarrassed at how unstable I felt as my period approached, especially when all of my girlfriends seemed to be handling their PMS symptoms in a manageable way.

My menstrual cycles were always preceded by feelings of severe depression, crying bouts, anxiety, fatigue, and extreme back pain that would disappear the day my period started. I decided that I could no longer live like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and had a conversation with my doctor. To my relief she confirmed that what I was going through was much more severe than PMS.

For those of you who might be suffering with PMDD, here are some tips I've learned from my doctor over the years to make life more bearable. You'll want to do everything on this list during the two weeks leading up to your period.

To see my tips,

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  • Keep a rigorous calendar of your cycle so you can anticipate when your symptoms will start. Knowing this time frame helps calm anxiety and allows you to take the necessary precautions to offset PMDD. It's also helpful to let those close to you anticipate these dates since they can help offer extra support during this time.
  • Exercise has been shown to help decrease symptoms of PMDD — go on more walks or bike rides leading up to your menstrual cycle.
  • Uncontrollable cravings and fatigue are signs of PMDD and can be offset by having a balanced diet of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. Adjust your diet by reducing caffeine, salt, refined sugars, and high carb meals.
  • Take the herbal remedies chasteberry and L-tryptophan. In clinical trials, both have shown to help decrease the emotional effects of PMDD.

If these tips don't improve your PMDD, talk to your doctor about other options. I've also had great success taking Yaz, the only birth control pill approved to treat PMDD, but some health experts are not convinced that Yaz is as safe as it claims to be.

Many women have symptoms so severe that they go on short cycles of antidepressants each month or take oral contraceptives to help with hormone regulation.

Image Source: Getty
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Join The Conversation
biarose biarose 6 years
I used to get severely depressed around my menstrual cycle, but then I got this implanon which stopped my periods and so didn't get the pms either. I got the implanon taken out the other day and that night went from pulling my hair out with frustration, to screaming my head at my parents, to bawling my eyes out in the space of about 5 minutes. The next day I felt so depressed again for the first time since I had gotten the implanon put in.. so I really think it's something hormonal. I'm not really sure what to do though.
Allytta Allytta 6 years
I went on the pill and all these terrible symptoms disappeared. I do get extra emotional, but no extremes.
TAjunkie TAjunkie 6 years
I have PMDD as well. I describe as PMS on steroids. At first I thought I was having a reaction to my birth control pills, so I switched. And then switched again. After trying several types, my doc suggested it was PMDD and not a birth control problem. He suggested Prozac. I was really against the idea of drugs, so he offered alternative solutions like exercising more, modifying my diet, etc. I tried that route and while my symptoms slightly improved, it wasn't significant enough to make it more bearable. I finally decided to try to Prozac a year ago, and my life has completely turned around. PMDD is horrible, but now I'm able to manage it better. My husband is happier and I'm happier.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 6 years
I get real bad PMS, i find walking for an hour outside does wonders. :)
schonefrauen schonefrauen 6 years
I have severe pain: Dysmenorrhea Or PMS. Its a nightmare!
andrennabird andrennabird 6 years
Wow, I thought I was the only one who dealt with this issue. I've been tracking my cycle for over a year now, and I know my worst mental states directly correlate. I've never tried those herbal remedies - I'll give it a shot!
poissondujour poissondujour 6 years
Oy, I have this too and I just went off BC, so it's way more predictable. I like the idea of calendaring. I'm going to have to implement that. Thanks, Fit!
Spectra Spectra 6 years
I used to have PMDD. My periods were, like, horrific. I would turn into a psycho b*tch and I got horrible cramps that would keep me out of school. Once I lost my excess weight, my symptoms went away almost entirely. My gyno said that being overweight/obese can definitely exacerbate symptoms, so weight loss can definitely help things out somewhat.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 6 years
I think I have PMDD. My period itself is easy to manage and rather short, but the week before is hell. It's not just the emotional part, but the fainting and headaches. It's sad that my boyfriend noices my terrible mood as well. I am pretty withdrawn.
Camarogirl67 Camarogirl67 6 years
Yup. I'm taking Ocella (generic for Yaz I believe) but I'm going to go off it and and get an IUD (ParaGuard, not Mirena). Getting some cysts that are painful. Anyhoo, exercise definitely helps and keeping track of your swings on a calendar. This is how I figured out what was going on. For me, it's 7 days exactly before the start of my period. Knowing this, I give myself a break and deal with it more proactively.
Camarogirl67 Camarogirl67 6 years
Yup. I'm taking Ocella (generic for Yaz I believe) but I'm going to go off it and and get an IUD (ParaGuard, not Mirena). Getting some cysts that are painful. Anyhoo, exercise definitely helps and keeping track of your swings on a calendar. This is how I figured out what was going on. For me, it's 7 days exactly before the start of my period. Knowing this, I give myself a break and deal with it more proactively.
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