Women’s mental health shouldn’t be treated the same as men’s.
We have different hormones and our mood can change drastically in our luteal phase.
I was once chatting with one of my Limitless Women and she told me her doctor told her straight out we don’t really understand PMDD. There’s been a lot of misogyny in mental health research. It doesn’t take into account women’s changing hormones and how they impact mood. We need to be looking at women’s bodies and hormones differently when it comes to mood disorders, but we haven’t yet.
So, let’s change that and chat about PMDD.
PMDD is often misdiagnosed, if you ever receive a diagnosis at all. At a women’s health conference I heard numbers like 20% of women could have PMDD while 3-8% have a formal diagnosis.
PMS and PMDD have similar symptoms with the mood symptoms being much more severe with PMDD. Symptoms of anxiety can interfere with work and social relationships, depressive symptoms can be so intense that you spend days crying or even have thoughts of self-harm. It’s important to speak to a healthcare practitioner if you suspect you have PMDD. Usually symptoms are confined to the luteal phase and resolve as the period comes.
What’s going on in PMDD?
1) Abnormal GABA receptors
Women with PMDD might have something different going on in their brain. We think there’s a problem with their GABA receptors. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter. It makes us feel calm and relaxed. When progesterone is around it can stimulate GABA receptors to help us feel calm and chilled out. Women with PMDD don’t get the same calming effects.
2) Progesterone Fluctuations
The problem with the GABA receptors in the brain of a woman with PMDD is that they’re sensitive to progesterone fluctuations, they don’t handle it well. Treatments focus on getting adequate progesterone and stabilizing progesterone levels so the GABA receptors don’t have to deal with the fluctuations and you can get that blissed out benefit of the progesterone.
The birth control isn’t a quick fix solution. A typical approach was to use birth control pills to help with PMDD. Birth control gives progestins NOT progesterone. Progestins don’t provide the same calming benefit as progesterone. Sometimes mood symptoms can worsen on the pill.
Women with PMDD can sometimes also have high estrogen and low progesterone. Keeping the two in balance can help with symptoms.
Book a free 15 minute call if you need help with your mood around your period and want to chat.