Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) on steroid
Feminine Vitae (FV) interviewed Sarah Rawsthorn who relied on her lived experience with Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) to develop mental health education programmes. PMDD affects around 1 in 20 women.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a mood disorder which is similar to but more severe than the better known Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). PMDD affects 1 in 20 women of reproductive age. Women with PMDD experience a range of severe symptoms which are disruptive to daily tasks and can cause them to struggle to function effectively in their work and personal lives. Symptoms include irritability, anxiety, depression lack of energy, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms arise in the weeks preceding their period and remit when they get their period. As the condition is not as well known as PMS, women with PMDD may be self-managing symptoms of PMDD thinking that they are experiencing PMS.
One such woman is Sarah Rawsthorn, director of Mind Mechanics. Sarah recounts experiencing severe PMDD symptoms for around ten years without
Watch our interview with Sarah
In the days leading up to her period, she would experience anxiety, depression, difficulty managing stressful situations, poor decision making, unhappiness
She describes it as being in a very dark place and seeing everything through “a PMDD lens”.
She tried to manage her symptoms with techniques that work with PMS but found them to be ineffective. Her symptoms meant that she responded inappropriately to difficult situations and found it difficult to regulate her responses to stressful situations both in her personal life and at work. Once her period started these symptoms would entirely dissipate
More info on PMDD
For more info on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), refer to Vicious Cycle PMDD, International Association For Premenstrual Disorders, Mind factsheet
Upon being formally diagnosed with PMDD, Sarah used a combination of antidepressants and non-medical
When asked what she would recommend to other women with PMDD, she suggested exploring medical options with a GP as well as self-care tools. Treatment of PMDD can involve a combination of medical and lifestyle interventions. Treatment options for PMDD include dietary changes, stress management, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory medication, birth control
Interview by Rebecca Bairstow | Author: Rachel Trotman