I was raised in an era (wow that word makes me feel old) where PMS was the basis of many comedian's jokes, of many TV shows skits, of much eye rolling. So when I hit puberty and life became a roller coaster ride it was incredibly difficult to talk about it with anyone. I really think that many of my food issues stem from, or were at the very least multiplied, by my fluctuating and out of control hormones. For some women PMS was a hassle, a little bloating and some food cravings for a few days before their period and life moved on, for some it was more serious with mood swing, back pain and cravings. For me it was chaos. Half of the month I was a happy normal young teenager who ate like any other person, laughed at jokes, interacted with friends and enjoyed life (well as much as any normal teen does). The other half of the month I was depressed, angry, binging on salty or sweet food, sequestering myself in my room and just feeling crummy.
It wasn't until after I was married, went through fertility treatments, birthed twins and tried to get back to "normal" that I got answers. I was diagnosed with PMDD. Looking at the list of symptoms (I experienced each and every one) I wish I had put it all together years sooner because once it was diagnosed I found what, for me, were miracles.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition in which a woman has severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than those seen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
PMS refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that typically occur about 5 to 11 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. The symptoms usually stop when or shortly after her period begins.
The causes of PMS and PMDD have not been found.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Hormone changes that occur during a woman's menstrual cycle appear to play a role.
PMDD affects between 3% and 8% of women during the years when they are having menstrual periods.
Many women with this condition have:
Other factors that may play a role include:
- Alcohol abuse
- Being overweight
- Drinking large amounts of caffeine
- Having a mother with a history of the disorder
- Lack of exerciseThe symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS. However, they are generally more severe and debilitating and include a least one mood-related symptom. Symptoms occur during the week just before menstrual bleeding and usually improve within a few days after the period starts.
Five or more of the following symptoms must be present to diagnose PMDD, including one mood-related symptom:
- Disinterest in daily activities and relationships
- Fatigue or low energy
- Feeling of sadness or hopelessness, possible suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of tension or anxiety
- Feeling out of control
- Food cravings or binge eating
- Mood swings marked by periods of teariness
- Panic attack
- Persistent irritability or anger that affects other people
- Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
- Problems sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
My Dr. prescribed Lexapro© for me. Lex is frequently used to treat PMDD and for me it has been a miracle drug. My emotions and moods are now normal and although I feel a full range of appropriate emotions in any situation I don't go through a two week funk every month. This also helps with my eating behaviors. Yes, I still experience some PMS symptoms, I go through some cravings for two or three days before my period, I often have headaches (but since I have chronic sinus issues that isn't always a sign), and I can be a tiny bit teary but on a scale of one to ten my symptoms, on their worst months, maybe hit a three while there were many months before my diagnosis that I was at a ten to the nth power.
This post was brought on because I woke up this morning to my period. The realization hit me, "Oh, that's why I had two bags of (light) popcorn last night instead of one". That's the difference between then and now.
If only I could blame all of my food issues on the PMDD I would be home free but sadly it isn't the cause of all of my foibles. I struggle each day to handle my food. Some days I succeed better than others. Rarely do I have a completely out of control day but they do happen. Today I weigh 60 pounds less than I did one year ago. To me that is an amazing thing. For now my only weight goal is to maintain and to track my food. I have had such an emotionally and physically challenging few months that maintaining is a success in itself. I have another week on this maintenance goal and then I am going to drop my intake slightly and give myself a loss goal of about 2 pounds a month. I still have 70 pounds to go to get to my goal but am determined to do it.