You will typically only experience these symptoms for a week or two before your period starts. The symptoms follow your menstrual cycle, so you might find they start to get better when you get your period and will usually have disappeared by the time your period is finished.
In the depths of my PMDD I tend to just retreat to my bed – I get very depressed and my anxiety goes sky high. I get hugely fatigued and can’t keep my eyes open – I sleep for about 18 hours a day.
PMDD and suicidal feelings
Some women find that one of their monthly symptoms is thoughts about suicide. This is can feel very distressing.
If you're experiencing suicidal feelings and are worried you may act on them, you can call 999, go straight to A&E or call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 to talk. You can also scroll to the top of this page and click the yellow 'I need urgent help' button, which can guide you through more options for keeping yourself safe. (See our pages on how to cope with suicidal feelings for more information.)
What are the causes of PMDD?
The exact causes are still not fully understood but some possible factors are:
- Being very sensitive to changes in hormone levels. Recent research suggests that PMDD is associated with increased sensitivity to the normal hormonal changes that occur during your monthly menstrual cycle.
- Genetics. Some research suggests that this increased sensitivity to changes in hormone levels may be caused by genetic variations.
Some other research has shown that in some cases PMDD may be linked to stressful and traumatic past events (such as emotional or physical abuse), but there's no evidence to explain how or why.
It very much got worse as I went into my 30s and by my mid-30s I was losing 3 days going downhill, a week in a depression feeling like I was going through a bereavement, and then a few days to recover and feeling like I’ve been chewed up and spat out. It’s exhausting to know that once it passes you have to brace yourself for it all to happen all over again in a couple of weeks' time.
Is PMDD a mental health problem?
PMDD is commonly defined as an endocrine disorder, meaning that it is a hormone-related disorder. But as well as physical symptoms, people with PMDD also experience a range of different mental health symptoms such as depression and suicidal feelings. For these reasons, it has recently been listed as a mental health problem in the DSM-5 (one of the main manuals that doctors use to categorise and diagnose mental health problems).
It's important to remember that ultimately, how you understand your symptoms and experiences is up to you. The most important thing is that you get the support you need and deserve to help you manage the effects that they have on your life.
Watch Laura talk about her experiences of PMDD, and what she's found helpful: