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Understanding PMS and PMDD

Do you have PMS?

The week, or even two weeks leading up to my period are very difficult and uncomfortable. I have mood swings, irritability, cramping, bloating, acne, joint pain, and you get the picture. I wonder what’s wrong with me, why I am eating so much, or why I don’t have an appetite. And let’s not forget the food cravings. This is what premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS, looks like for me.

PMS is a variety of symptoms you experience one to two weeks before your period starts. The symptoms are both physical and mental. You may deal with breast swelling and tenderness, acne, bloating and weight gain, headaches or joint pain, food cravings, irritability, mood swings, depression, and more.

People may joke about PMS, but it is not a joke. These symptoms have taken a toll on my mental health in the past, and it is harder to work through when you don’t understand what’s happening. Having a period tracker and taking birth control has helped a lot. The period tracker helps me realize when I’m experiencing PMS, so that I can adjust my activity accordingly. I can rest more and allow myself to eat the foods I crave in moderation. I can also take more breaks and give myself time to recover. Birth control on the other hand has helped to reduce my PMS symptoms significantly.

Aside from lifestyle changes, there are multiple treatments for PMS and PMDD that you can discuss with your doctor. Each form of treatment should be given careful thought, and you should do your own research on whatever you decide to use.

Some women have a severe form of PMS called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). If you have PMDD you may experience the PMS symptoms previously mentioned, in addition to “severe anxiety, depression and mood changes.” For example you might have extreme irritability, anxiety and panic attacks, or depression and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment for PMS and PMDD include birth control, antidepressants, painkillers for period pain, and water pills to help with water retention. However, more research is needed to determine the efficiency of many PMS treatments. Some natural treatments for PMS are calcium, as well as Vitamin B6. Magnesium might also help with PMS symptoms, though studies show mixed results. Omega 3 and Omega 6 also show mixed results in studies, but may help with cramps and other PMS symptoms.

If you have PMS or PMDD, understand that your condition is real and should be taken seriously. It is a good idea to come up with a plan that will benefit you during this time. Ask yourself how you can slow down and relax more when you are experiencing these symptoms, and talk to a supportive family member or friend. You can also check out my recent 5 day summer challenge, which provides fun and relaxing activities to help prepare you for your period. Do not suffer silently, and know that you are not alone.

Disclaimer: Amber’s Care should not replace medical advice. If you have questions about the following statements, please consult a doctor.

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