DISCLOSURE: A huge "thank you" to Savings.com for sponsoring today's post. I am not a Doctor, so any info I give here is strictly anecdotal and you should check with your family Doctor before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.
WARNING: Period talk ahead.
I like to keep things kinda light around here. I usually don't delve into the more personal stuff, unless you count that one time I shared my story for #SAAM, but that is all about to change.
For the past year or so, I have been battling (and that's exactly what it is, a battle) a mood disorder called PMDD. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this, let me break it down for you. PMDD is like if PMS and crazy met, fell in love and had a baby, that's PMDD. It is all the normal moodiness, sore breasts, water weight gain, cravings, etc. that accompanies "that time of the month", but it is so much more.
Like clockwork, about 10-14 days before good ol' Aunt Flo comes to visit, I can feel myself starting to change. My fuse is shorter, my anxiety ramps up, "the crazy" as I like to call it slowly starts creeping in and my emotions are not at all what one would call "normal". I worry about every little thing in the world, then I go to sleep, wake up and worry again.
I start to feel very disconnected from the usual happy-go-lucky person I am the other 3ish weeks out of the month. My ability to concentrate wanes and my anger grows. It's very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-esque. I often want to climb out of my skin and just run away from myself, because I am such a bitch. There's no other word for it. It is what it is.
I find myself getting frustrated at things I would normally let slide. I snap at my husband and the kids for silly things I know they can't help, like "mouth noises" or spilled milk. I feel they are secretly plotting against me, because they think it's funny, when nothing could be further from the truth, because as bad as it feels for me to experience this, I'm sure it is just as bad for them to live through as well.
I try really hard to remember this is not just my struggle, this condition affects those around me as well, but it's really hard sometimes, so I confine myself to my room or just clam up as not to hurt anyone with my misdirected frustration, which then turns into, a feeling of isolation, which begets sadness and anger. It's a horrible cyclic thing I would not wish on my worst enemy.
I didn't like feeling this way every month, so I decided to find some help. I looked online and started researching exactly what PMDD is, why it happens and how to alleviate some of the more bothersome symptoms.
My initial research wasn't very encouraging. Most of the sources I found said PMDD is best treated with hormones or mood elevators / stabilizers and that was not even an option for me. I try to stay away from pharmaceuticals as much as possible. Not because I don't believe in their efficacy, but because I have a very sensitive system and I have a hard time taking most medicines, so I try to stay as close to natural remedies as possible.
Not one to give up, I decided to dig a little deeper and see if I could find supplements that would replace the things my body was lacking during this specific part of my cycle.
To find supplements that would help, I first had to understand exactly what PMDD is and what was going on in my body that made me wanna stab people in the neck with a spork.
From my research I found that, unfortunately, not a lot is known about how PMDD works and what exactly causes it, but the general consensus is good ol' hormones are the culprit.
Since hormones control everything from metabolism to emotion, it stands to reason it could definitely cause the "craziness" I feel during that time of the month. In my research, I found that rising levels of estrogen and the declining levels of progesterone are the likely causes of the intense symptoms experienced during the ovulation phase of a woman's cycle.
It is estimated that only 3-8% of women suffer from PMDD which sounds like a small percentage, until you become one of them. PMDD does not have to be a source of embarrassment, treatment and help is available. You do not have to suffer in silence.
There are two types of symptoms in PMDD: somatic and affective. Somatic symptoms affect the body and include: breast tenderness, headaches, and abdominal bloating. Affective symptoms affect the mind, and include: depression, angry outbursts, social withdrawal, and irritability. Many women will suffer from symptoms in both categories.
There have not been a lot of studies done on PMDD, but there is lots of anecdotal evidence that shows many promising routes of treatment. If your symptoms are severe enough, your Doctor can prescribe birth control pills to ensure you don't ever reach the luteal phase of your period, which, in theory, will quell the symptoms due to the extreme fluctuations of hormones.
There are also over the counter progesterone creams made from all natural ingredients like yams and such and I've read that bio-identical hormones are a good choice for some women as well. While I wasn't quite ready to go full on Suzanne Somers, I did find a good regimen of supplements that have really worked miracles for my symptoms.
There are not a lot of specific PMDD supplements that weren't full of things I wasn't really too keen on trying, so I broke my symptoms down and tried to treat them individually. For me, the most bothersome symptoms were the intense mood changes and anxiety related symptoms, such as heart palpitations, but PMDD can affect women in lots of different ways.
When doing my research, I came across a study, like a for real for real double blind, peer reviewed study about the efficacy of krill oil on PMS and the results were very promising.
The study shows that out of 70 women, "a statistically significant improvement was demonstrated among baseline, interim, and final evaluations in the self assessment questionnaire...". In layman's terms, it worked.
I decided to grab a bottle of krill oil the very next time I went to the grocery store, what could it hurt. If it worked, great, if it didn't, oh well, at least I tried and I felt totally safe taking it, since it was just krill oil and I am definitely not allergic to shellfish.
I wasn't really even sure what I was looking for or what the difference was in all the different brands, so I just grabbed a couple of bottles of Nature's Bounty, since I had a coupon for them and they were on sale BOGO at Kroger... double score. (as of the date of publication, Nature's Bounty is currently BOGO at Kroger)
After I got home and started comparing brands, I realized I had made a good choice. Nature's Bounty uses no artificial colors, flavor or sweetener, preservatives, sugar, starch, milk, lactose, soy, gluten, wheat, yeast, or sodium in their krill oil and it is 100% all natural ingredients with no fishy aftertaste.
I honestly didn't really expect to notice a difference, it seemed a little woo-ish to actually work, but the month after I started the krill oil, I realized I was about three days into my cycle and I noticed I didn't want to throat punch anyone the week before. Wait, was this a fluke or did the krill oil actually work?!
I continued the krill oil for a couple more months, then I ran out of the BOGO bottles I had bought the months before and kept forgetting to restock and it came creeping back. The quick temper, the intense sadness at the drop of a hat, the anxiety and doom and gloom, it all came back. What had I done differently?! Oh yeah, I forgot to get more krill oil. I will never make that mistake again.
After doing a lot of Googling and a lot of reading, I decided on a dose of 1 gram of krill oil a day for three weeks of my cycle and 500mgs a day for the actual week of my period. To find out which part of my cycle I was in, on any given day, I did what any woman would do... I downloaded an app, 'cause ain't nobody got time to write stuff on a calendar every day.
The other symptoms I was experiencing were heart palpitations, which were very likely due to a magnesium deficiency, so I added a cal-mag-zinc supplement to my regimen along with a 1000 mg fish oil supplement for general heart health. Note: Fish oil and krill oil are not the same thing and the month I tried to cheap skate it out and buy fish oil only, my PMDD symptoms returned.
Using this combination of vitamins and supplements is working for me, for now, but if there ever came a time it wasn't, I definitely wouldn't hesitate to seek treatment from a Gynecologist who is well versed in the little nuances of a woman's body and body chemistry.
Here are a few more tips I have gleaned from the internet and from reading other women's stories.
I can not count on two hands the number of women I have seen asking, begging for someone to talk them off a ledge in a FB group I belong to and the women respond in droves with love and support and resources, because they have been there, done that and have the scars to prove it. You can be normal again, PMDD does not have to control your life and you do not have to face this alone. If you are in need of support, NAPMDD is a great place to start.
Follow Me on Pinterest