Two weeks before my monthly period I start to feel like I am changing. I start feeling more sensitive. I start to feel happy one minute then sad the next. Sometimes I start crying for no reason. On top of the mood changes I experience physical changes such as tender breasts, bloating, and fatigue. Once my period starts, I have two days of cramps and heavy flow then the symptoms stop, and I have a week of no issues at all.
I thought that this cycle, that would repeat itself month after month, was normal. Come to find out, during a therapy session, in 2015, that she thought that my depression and mood swings was caused by a medical condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
According to womenshealth.gov, “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a health problem that is similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but is more serious. PMDD causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts. Symptoms usually go away two to three days after your period starts.”
At first, I did not know much about PMDD or that I really had it, so I started doing my own research. I found out that I had many of the symptoms of PMDD. Some of the symptoms a person can experience, according to womenshealth.gov are: “…Lasting feelings of irritability or anger, feeling sad or feeling anxiety, feelings of mood swings and crying often, low energy, etc.”
I started to pay attention to my body, and I soon realized that my physical and emotional symptoms would soon end after I would finish my period.
When I was in therapy in 2015, I did not want to try birth control because I knew that my body reacted much better to natural resources such as exercise and adding extra vitamin D to my diet. Even with adding this to my routine I still was not feeling better. I continued to have problems. Because I was skeptical of trying birth control and because my therapist thought that she could no longer help me, my therapist ended my sessions in January 2018.
In January of this year, I finally had enough of the tears and pain. After another three weeks of wide range body pain, I decided to ask my current therapist about my symptoms. She agreed that my cycle sounded painful. She referred me back to my nurse. Even though I was hesitant to ask for birth control because I had rumors of weight gain and I feared having to have a pelvic exam, I finally asked my nurse for help.
My nurse was kind as she listened as I described my physical symptoms which included cramps, body pain, and acne. During my visit I emphasized that I had emotional symptoms which included depression, mood swings and lack of energy.
We went through the checklist of the benefits versus the risks of taking birth control. She and I both agreed that trying birth control would help me with PMDD.
During my first month of using birth control, I had headaches, aches and pains and leg pains. My period was the same. However, my emotions felt more controlled. At my follow up my nurse reassured me that the aches and pains I have been having should calm down as I continue to take it. I will continue my birth control unless I need to stop it. I hope that things improve.
Author’s note: I am not a medical professional. I am just sharing my own personal experiences. If you are concerned about your physical or mental health please seek proper medical care.