Hello and Welcome!!

~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
This summer here on the blog I'm hosting a dialogue, so to speak, between women with PMDD and various partners, about what goes on during an episode of PMDD. Titled The Voices of PMDD, and presented with many thanks to their respective authors, I plan to alternate these guest posts--PMDD woman, partner, PMDD woman, partner--in the hopes of giving each side a glimpse into the mind and heart of the other. The posts are random, and none of these people know each other. But we are all hurting, and if these posts can help you in any way to open up to your partner,
or bring a new measure of peace into your relationship,
then perhaps some healing can begin.
~*~*~*~*
On the more analytical side, if you're looking for information on a particular topic, just type that word in the search box. You will then pull up all posts that include information on that subject.
~*~*~*~*

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Things That Make Your PMDD Worse

Hi, I can’t believe another week has gone by. A few weeks ago my original intention was to write a post about things to do help manage your PMDD, but there are still a lot of things out there we need to avoid to keep it from getting worse. It won’t do us any good to drink, eat and do the right things as long as we are still eating, drinking and doing the things that make it worse. At best, we’ll only be self-defeating our good intentions. True balance can’t be achieved by coming at this disorder hit or miss.

I’ve been scanning the PMDD loops and forums, and there are so many women out there crying out for help. As I read the posts, I can pinpoint some things they are doing to make their PMDD worse, without even realizing it. Nobody intentionally wants to make themselves feel badly, especially a PMDD woman. We know—even if at times it seems only like a distant memory—what it feels like to feel good, and we want to feel that way all the time.

As I said last week, the information is out there. The problem is it’s scattered all over the place, and some of it isn’t quite true. Some of it is slanted toward getting us to purchase products in which the author of that information has a financial interest. In the interests of my research I’ve bought several books and tapes and products designed to make me feel better, even “cure” my PMDD. Most have failed, because the information they are based upon is faulty to start with.

For instance, there is one doctor who insists over and over again in his literature that PMDD is caused by using birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. If that is the case, I shouldn’t have it, because I’ve never used either. But a vast majority of women have used one or the other, and so by claiming that they cause PMDD, he is guaranteed to have a wide range of women wondering if that is the cause of their PMDD and flocking to buy his products. Instant consumer base.

Based on the scientific information I have read, in particular the information produced in the past five years—information which is not referred to at all in this doctor’s literature--it’s clear that birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies worsen your PMDD, but do not cause it. The studies I have read indicate that overall there is some relief in the initial months when using these methods to treat your symptoms of PMDD—and that is all you can do with these methods—treat the symptoms—because neither of these treatment methods address the underlying cause of PMDD.

But after a certain period of time—usually several months—both clinical studies and anecdotal stories show that birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies make your PMDD worse. And if that’s not enough misery for you, when you stop taking these drugs for your PMDD, your PMDD worsens even more. Because your body has to do all that additional work to recover from the damage that was done to your hormonal balance through using these methods of treatment. The bottom line is you end up feeling worse than you did before you started these treatments.

Realize now that the failure was not yours. The failure was in the treatment, which is at best a one-size fits all treatment for what is a highly individualized disorder.

I have not used bio-identical hormone replacement treatment, so can not address that subject here. At this point I’m still on the fence about that. I have been able to manage my PMDD symptoms through rest, diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise. I still have episodes, but they are mild compared to what they once were, and more than manageable. I would like to make them go away completely, and in the interests of doing so (and research!) hope to try bio-identical hormone replacement therapy in time, but have yet to find a doctor in my local area who will prescribe them. So for now I muddle along, but again, my symptoms are mild and more than manageable.

Two other things that make your PMDD worse are:

Any prescribed drug, including anti-depressants (more on this in a future post).
Any over the counter drug, including NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—that’s right—ibuprofen. That wonderful substance that does wonders for our cramps and sore joints only adds to our PMDD burden.

I’m not saying to never take drugs again. There are genuine disorders, diseases, and conditions that can not be managed any other way. I’m saying you need to be aware that these things make your PMDD worse, and that it’s not just you and you’re not crazy.

For instance when you reach for that bottle of ibuprofen, you need to reach for it knowing you’re making a trade off…relief from your cramps now, or relief from your PMDD later.

Just knowing this makes me pause, and decide whether my cramps and aches are really bad enough for me to need that ibuprofen. Or do I really just need some rest and relaxation to give my body the time it needs to deal with the inflammation on its own?

Dealing with PMDD is more about awareness than anything else. It’s making ourselves aware of what our body is trying to tell us. For example, we need magnesium—chocolate craving—we need carbs—to boost the level of serotonin in our brain—we need sleep—to allow our brains can naturally re-regulate themselves.

Our bodies are designed to heal themselves naturally, given the right nutrients and rest. In our busy society, more often than not, we don’t have the time to stop and listen to what our bodies are telling us. We’ve been conditioned to carry on, no matter what, and consume whatever pill, food, or drink is handy to get us through. Recently I heard an ad on the radio for some kind of product you can puff into your mouth that brings you up to five more hours of energy. It has some nutrients in it to make it sound healthy, but it also has a heavy dose of caffeine—which cancels out any questionable benefits of the nutrients added. Never mind that a PMDD woman needs to avoid caffeine like the plague.

This company promotes their product as something you can take in the afternoon to get you through the rest of the day. So you can be even more productive than you already are. It’s touted as a good thing. Something to make you virtually indefatigable. In our case, a superwoman.

But if you’re tired, your body is telling you that you need rest, not that you need something to override your body’s natural warning system that you’re heading for a breakdown.

So sure, if you use this product--or any of the countless ones just like it you can find next to cash registers at any number of stores--you get the added boost for that particular afternoon. But what about the damage you are doing to your body, which is already screaming for relief? What about the price you will pay with a whopper of a PMDD episode down the line?

Is it really worth it? Or don’t you deserve any better?

24 comments:

  1. P.S I think as a blog writer and someone who wants to pass a message over to other woman it would be a good idea to exhust all forms of help for PMDD. I would suggest that you try the natural remidy progesterone cream and also get a saliva test so that you can with more confidence talk about PMDD and realy know your stuff. This is not a critizism it is a suggestion. We woman research to and we want to be able to find someone who can give us more hope. Does that make sense to you???

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  2. Hi, Gini! Thanks for stopping by! I have had the saliva testing and have tried the progesterone cream, and neither worked for me. I know it's helped a lot of people, but much of the reading I've done says that's not the true problem or the full story, so I'm reluctant to promote that idea here, since it didn't make any difference in my case. I'm still trying to find one unbiased medical source that says that progesterone is the solution--a source who doesn't have a financial interest in selling you that same progesterone cream. So far I haven't found it yet, and the information I am reading says it's all hype. Until I can find an independent source who says differently, I can't recommend progesterone as a treatment. In truth, I think it solves part of the problem, but doesn't get to the root cause of PMDD.

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  3. I was recently diagnosed with PMDD and my doctor has given me birth control pills to try I have already tried 2 other brands and just cant handle it. Makes my homrones go crazy and my aniexty worse than before. She wants me to try one more which I will try this next Sunday and if that doesnt work she suggest lexapro the 14 days before my period. I have also thought about progextrone cream from the heatlh food store but didnt know if this would possible cause more damage than good.

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    1. After years and years of dealing with the severe side effects I left work one day sobbing-for no reason now about 10 years ago. I went straight to my doctor because I couldn't live my life the way that I was anymore. He prescribed me xanax .25mg. He told me to take them when I felt like I was getting "there." When I take them like I am supposed to things are actually "ok" I say ok because it's not a cure, it's a bandaid, but when the alternative is losing myself, I am willing to do anything for myself and my family. I struggle with taking them though. I am trying to get better with it, because I know that for me there is no other alternative (that I know of) I had been to the doctor so many times in the past tried birth controls, anti depressants and was on depo shot for 10 years. NOTHING worked for me and if I was loopy with just the PMDD, give me a dose of birth control or an anti depressant for a few days and you might as well put me in the psyc ward at the hospital. I was a whole new animal and I didn't think it was possible to get worse-but it was. At the time about 10 years ago, I didn't know that I had PMDD, my best friend when I was younger swore I had bi polar disease, which hurt so much because I knew there was something else wrong with me, I just hadn't related it with my monthly cycle. I have lost countless friends made a fool out of myself hurt people and thought of harming my self so many times in my life it breaks my heart to pieces. That is when I am actually feeling well, the other almost 3 weeks that I have my wits about me and can actually function day to day, the other time I could care less if I lived or died and have a mind that is completely self defeating and anything that happens to me is devastating. I have a daughter who is 1 year old now and since I got my period back 4 months ago my PMDD has been even worse than it was before. I fear for her every time it hits that she will get PMDD too :( Last week, I actually wanted to throw my daughter through the window, my temper and patients level has completely diminished. I called my husband because he is extremely supportive and loving and he calmed me down and he asked me, did you take your pill? I said No, which is commonly my answer because I think I am bigger and better than the PMDD and I can make it without any meds. He has now put a reminder in his phone and every month he is going to make me take the meds because he knows they work. He said what is the worst thing that can happen to you, your a little more relaxed for a few days in the month? And the alternative is that we could "lose" you one of these times. So I am making it my priority every month now to be sure I catch myself before I get bad or even take the meds as a preventative measure and see how things go for the next couple months. For me though it is just giving in and accepting that I need to take the meds and then taking them. I don't know if anyone else has experience with taking xanax for PMDD but I can offer it as a suggestion as it does help me and is the only thing that helps me and I like the fact that I don't have a side affect other than being a little more relaxed and the ability to go with the flow when without it I am a complete train wreck and my mind tries to kill me. Anyway, that is my experience with PMDD. It sucks, and I hate it but I am going to try moving forward to see if for once and for all, I can defeat it, in my own way even if it means covering it up. I must say I get a prescription of 30 pills and they last me for over 2 years, why I am saying that is I am not the type of person to abuse the drug. I don't even take it according to the bottle which is 1 pill 3x daily, the most I take in the day is a whole one and I take .5 mg. now. Mostly I try a 1/4 pill first and if I need more go from there. Best wishes to everyone out there with PMDD I used to think I was the only one and didn't even know what was wrong with me. My prayers and heart go out to all of you.

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    2. Thank you for sharing this... I know exactly what you are going through, I felt like I was reading my own story. But to compound issues I have thyroid problems to boot. I don't want to take the xanax and fight it everytime or wait until its too late. Now the doctor wants me to take an anti-depressant. I refuse. Again, thank you for sharing!

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    3. This is to Anonymous:
      I am on Lexapro as well as Yaz and it seems to be taking away 70-85% of my symptoms. i still have "those days", but i feel much better than I did off of them.

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  4. Your best bet is to get your doctor to test your progesterone levels, actually to get your doctor to test all the hormones on page 385 of Dr. Vliet's book, It's My Ovaries, Stupid! and go from there. If your progesterone level is truly low, you'll do better with a prescription cream to balance you out. Over the counter creams are not regulated, and some sources say you practically need to take a bath in them to get any results. Progesterone cream can help you to relax and feel less anxious, but if it's not what you need, it can make you feel sedated and lethargic. Try to get your doctor to do a blood test on your hormones. Not a saliva test. Those are mostly a marketing tool and unreliable.

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  5. Hey I just wanted to say that I'm really impressed with your blog entry. I'm doing a project on PMDD and just wanted to say that I completely agree that the Progesterone is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Since hormone therapy is not consistently effective, it may not be the hormones themselves that are responsible for the abnormalities in body and mind, but the sensitivity of the brain centers to these hormones instead. Therefore, I would be very interested to see medical research doing a combination of Progesterone supplementation along with a program of regular exercise, a diet low in fat and high in fiber, and specific relaxation/stress management techniques.

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  6. Hello, first off I want to thank you for writing these posts!! I am a 39 year old mother of 4. About 5 months ago I got sick... Started to get really tired, woozy feelings, nausea, bad headaches and now really bad anxiety at times. My doctor tried all kinds of SSRI's that made me feel worse. The only thing I take is .25mg of Lexapro when it gets real bad. For 16 days out of the month I feel great!!! Then about 2 weeks I slowly but surely start feeling bad again. Then about four days before my period I get really sick again. Do you think it could be PMDD? I have asked my doctor but he just writes me off!!! I really believe it could be PMDD and I don't know where to turn. Thank you again for posting this. It seems to ease my mind some!!

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  7. Your post is helpful. But your medical advice is not accurate. Conclusive randomized, placebo controlled trials strongly suggests that SSRI antidepressants (most significantly paroxitene or Prozac) help with PMDD.

    Your personal experience, although of course most relevant to you, is only anecdotal evidence. If you don't believe in scientific studies, suit yourself. But your statements of fact are not accurate with respect to the above.

    Your post is otherwise very helpful, and very insightful.

    Bob, MD PhD

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    1. Sure, Bob. And we know that all the studies are so rigorous too, right? That there's no post hoc analyses going on. That when the result an author is looking for doesn't show up, "data mining" never occurs (gotta get that paper out!). That there is no "garbage can filing" either. And that there's a lot of replication going on too. SUURRREE.

      As someone who knows how to analyze literature AND as a women with PMDD, I want to emphasize to you that YOUR comment isn't helpful. SSRIs do not help with PMDD for many woman (see Liana's post below). If you read all the literature and knew that, why post that Liana doesn't give good advice? Or, perhaps you haven't read the literature but decided to comment anyway? If so, then why not tell the people reading your post of the not so scientific ways studies really get run and published? Why not tell us how some in the medical community don't even acknowledge PMDD as a disorder, but will nonetheless prescribe SSRIs for patients suffering from it?

      Ok: I could go on, but have made my point.
      Note: I've started my period, so this isn't my PMDD talking. LOL!

      Ingrid, PhD

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    2. Yikes, alot of sarcasm going on in this post for someone who is just trying to state their EDUCATED and scientifically proven thought.

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  8. Thank you, Bob, for taking the time to comment. I also appreciate your compliments. As for my opinion on anti-depressants, I plan to do a full blog on this subject in the future and would welcome any and all of your information, along with the sources from which it comes. At present my feeling is that while randomized clinical trials have shown that SSRI antidepressants "may" work in up to 60% of women with PMDD, (more current studies are now finding that that number may be lower than originally thought), they are being marketed and prescribed as a blanket cure for PMDD when the only aspect of anti-depressants that applies to women with PMDD is that SSRI's can relieve the symptoms of an acute episode within hours when taken as needed. When taken when they are not needed, which is most of the month, they do more harm than good, and so overall (as they are currently being prescribed and applied) they are not beneficial to women with PMDD. I'd love it if you sent your information to me at info (at) livingwithpmdd (dot) com. Thanks so much and I hope to hear from you!

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  9. What is the saliva test?

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  10. That's when you spit into a tube and a lab analyzes your saliva for hormones. Not recommended by most doctors. See my post about Finding a Doctor to learn of my experience with saliva testing. http://livingonaprayerwithpmdd.blogspot.com/2010/09/finding-doctor-to-help-you-with-your.html

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  11. I am 20 years old. And when I was 17 my therapist suggested that I have pmdd. I went to a doctor. Who put me on yaz then he switched to the depovera shots I felt like I was really going crazy then. Like some force was controlling Me i felt possessed when I told my doctor that. He said I need a phscyolgist Because the deporovera cancel any hormones out
    So I went to see one And he said it was a hormonal thing.
    I got blood test. And my doctor said i was fine but i still felt something was wrong so I stopped taking the shots and for about 7 months I went crazy !!!!! But then I got my period and forgot about this issue recently I have been noticing again. Every 2 weeks I will be ok. Happy and self confident. Then 2 weeks I will go crazy my life feels empty pointless. And I feel worthless. I lose patients for people and forget how to smile I went through so many doctors And I know I am not crazy !!!

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    1. I wanted to state a few of the issues I have gone through in regards to birth control. I had always had irregular periods before my issues with pmdd. I had taken birth control a few times in my teens and early 20s before I was sexually active and the pills seemed to make me very depressed, so I would stop them once my period was back on track. When I became sexually active with my partner, we went on birth control and I had taken many different pills with no avail. Each one had caused me to be irritable and mean. Finally, the doctors prescribed me yaz which worked for a bit until I got severe rashes behind my legs, they took me off of it and I was prescribed a few others before I was back on yaz, but with a history of blood clots in my family, the doctos suggested I try the nuvaring. Nuvaring worked well for a bit, no pmdd symptoms, but debilitating migraines monthly. Again, I was taken off nuvaring and told my last option was depo-provera! The depo shot instantly set me into my first severe pmdd episode, my boyfriend was so terrified of me that I was taken to a therapist to discuss my anger that night. It was as if I had absolutely no control of anything I was saying or doing. I had punched a hole in the wall and was screaming until my voice had been lost. This was the beginning of a severe bout of monthly hell. This was the first and last time I took the depo shot and I feel as thought the symptons of pmdd have worsened since my first encounter with it. Like clockwork, my pmdd symptoms come on and nothing I say or do can stop it from exploding. It has been a year since that first and last depo shot. In July 2013, I had the second worst fit I had ever experienced and had not received my period since the shot in January 2013. I received my period in August 2013, and it lasted nearly two weeks! I have been dealing with fibroids and cysts ever since. I have been tracking my pmdd symptoms and I fear it is getting worse than better, while my boyfriend is very supportive, I fear it is really taking a toll on our relationship, it is even harder when he suggested I not take birth control in the first place because he was afraid of the synthetic drug and its harmfulness to women. I am not going to say that the bc was the cause of my pmdd, but I will say that it definitely aggravated it to a point where it is very difficult to control. I am taking cipralex currently and it seems as though this pill is making me more angry and irritable on the days when I am in an extremely low mood.

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  12. Anonymous above....I feel like I wrote that! I had the exact same reaction. When I went on yaz I felt like I was literally possessed. I feel that PMDD is limiting my life in a very big way. I have damaged relationships and left jobs because two weeks of every month I am a different person....I feel "not myself" and no one in my life understands it or can offer any help. Now I finally found an amazing man who loves me, but I am afraid I will lose him too because he is getting tired of this monthly trend. I eat clean, exercise, sleep plenty and am in perfect health...I just wish there was an answer. For any woman to spend 50% of her life feeling this way is frankly a travesty....

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  13. I feel the same way-- I am so tired of this and of course I go to dark places bc I just want this to end. I don't care if I live or die and it is a cycle I can't beat. For two weeks, if I am lucky, out of the month I am fine but the other two I have major head aches and rage and my eyes hurt and I am just not right. I always wonder what it will feel like to be normal. Yes I have lost friendships/relationships I have been on anti depressant/birth control and mood stabilizers and it works for a few months but then I go nuts. Like I am a mad person I feel the rage in the back of my neck and it moves to my eye balls and then to the top of my head. I have been to neurologist and they say nothing is wrong. I am just happy I am not alone but I still hate myself 14 days out of the month.

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  14. It's hardly sufficient to just say "thanks" to someone who has provided not only a great wealth of info on a terribly misunderstood condition but a real forum for women to share their experiences, but... thanks, Liana. I feel safe here.

    I just wanted to say that my heart goes out to all you sufferers. I am 43, and never had PMS before I went on the Pill at 23. After I came off it again, I was a different person... Ms Hyde. All my latent emotional instability took off and yet I had no idea what was causing it. I had no idea that it was the Pill that triggered this change. And it's been horribly downhill ever since, aggravated by a poor diet and weight gain. As I enter perimenopause, I am dreading the changes to come. Already, my PMS (well, I'm self-diagnosing here, but it's certainly PMDD) and my ovulation cycles are more out of whack than ever. I too have crouched in closets threatening to kill myself, lost friends when I've had no impulse control and worn myself out having crying jags Suicidal thoughts really felt like a relief at those times - you know, like finally I was facing the TRUTH about how terrible I was. Well, I have yet to try an approach via the hormone/Pill/antiDep. route, because like so many of you I didn't want to be on meds. (and trying Zoloft led to me becoming a Zombie). But in spite of a doctor who has no help to offer me, (whatever concerns I have she attributes to “aging.” Uh-HUH…) I feel more hopeful after reading some of your stories and Liana's insights.

    I wanted to add something I'm not sure has been mentioned: Pamprin has a "PMS" pill, and it has saved my life and my marriage. It doesn't work wonders, and some would say the medicinal ingredients don't add up to much, but from my point of view they have literally held me together when I thought I might kill myself or someone else. I'm not kidding. So I just wanted to mention it, in case some of you who didn't know about it wanted to avoid the Pill. BTW, I have yet to come across other women who experience ovulation as a mini-PMS the way I do, and would be interested to hear from someone else. Until I self-diagnosed that I was experiencing PMDD symptoms TWICE a month, I was even more in hell. Now I take the Pamprin for basically two weeks of every month, and it helps take the edge off.

    Sprite

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  15. Oh wow! So relieved to find this blog! I did ivf and had a baby 18 month ago and since that I have experinced severe anxiety and panic attacks, but especially a week before my periods! Turns out I am perimenopausal and have pmdd! I have tried homeopathic remedies and non homeopathic remedies and hormone repalacement therapy! They literally made me feel a thousand times worse! The only thing that has helped is taking xanor! I take it only when I am feeling like I am actually going to die! Like many of the other ladies I am fine for the rest of the month! Normal except for a little anxiety(bearable) now and again! So greatful I actually found a doctor who recognised the problem! Still looking forward to being totally normal again,as I have always been super happy!

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  16. well I'm a week past my period and just had a bout of pmdd wtf all symptoms presant and have been diagnosed medically so I think at my age of 46yrs a little of perimenopausal is starting to maybe who knows have tried sertra tablets they work but I'm going to change diet and lifestyle to try and ease the symptoms here's to good health fingers crossed

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  17. I have was diagnosed with PMDD years ago.. the Dr's put me on Prozac and aid this seems to work for Every woman.. But I didnt want to be stuck on a pill for the rest of my life.. I eat right, excercise take supps but its that moment 2 or 3 days prior.. Sometimes just right down to the day before and then all of a sudden I turn into the Devil from hell. My head would spin around sometimes. I just wanted to curl up and die.. Finally went to the Doc and said I just need something to take when I am about to crack. during a very stressful time at work I spilled all my emotions out on a girl in the bathroom at my job and then felt so bad about it the next day. I did apologize to her the next day via email. No one deserves that. I dont want to take pills. I work in the medical industry and knows what pills do to people but now I have to.. its either that or end up in a mental facility. Listen Ladies.. If you are normal at least 3 weeks out of the month and then all of a sudden Everything overwhelms you.. Its PMDD. it sucks and I have tried Everything.. Now I was prescribed effexor or Xanax.. So when you feel like you are going to choke someone.. there it is..

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  18. I am on this blog today because I have had yet another episode of pmdd. I yelled and screamed at my boyfriend for eating my craving foods, only to realize the next day how completely wrong of me it was to get so angry at him over food. Truly is a Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde scenario. He is usually so supportive and then this happens and I turn completely against him, and I know he is at his wits ends with this, and it is putting so much stress on him. I am 26 and he is 29, we are approaching our 30s and we want to start a family one day, but I am not sure how we can even start thinking about this when I can't even get a grip of my own body!

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