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When I was struggling I turned to these forums for help and support (even though I never wrote anything). Now that I have found something to help me, I thought if I wrote them here then it might help someone out there!
I am 32 now but have always different crippling period pains and always had pretty bad PMS symptoms - grouchy and angry and sad! But over the last few years, that PMS developed into PMDD and was increasingly taking over my life. Up to two weeks before my period I would get depressed, swing between crying and erupting into anger. I found myself withdrawing and unable to handle anyone's company at all and pushed everyone away. I felt overwhelmed by everything as my anxiety took over. It was like a fog descending on me every month. As time passed I found it got me down more and more throughout the month too.
Eventually with the help of my partner we made an attempt to break the cycle of despair. I saw a gyaenacologist in the middle of my worst PMDD. I cried and I pleaded for help, to which I got told it was just bad PMS, I should find a hobby, better still a boyfriend to 'cheer me up'. (the effort it took me to conjure the strength to book an appointment and show up, only to be greeted by an unsympathetic ear drives me to despair). He gave me Yasmin to try (I had never been on any pill before).
I tried Yasmin for 6 months during which
- I lost 5kg (which sent me seriously underweight)
- My undiagnosed PMDD seemed to increasingly take over
- my usually awful period cramps diminished and my periods were light
It all came to a head again in June when my eyes glazed over, I fell into the depths of depression anxiety and anger - worse than ever before. We managed to find a wonderful gyaenacologist with a background in psychology and an incredibly patient demeanor.
We talked through symptoms, ( I cried a lot) and she decided to run tests on my thyroid and iron levels (as both can seriously affect moods). Both were negative so PMDD was the likely culprit.
The first thing to trial for two weeks was Prozac (20mg). I also decided to go off the Yasmin.
I had an awful two weeks with Prozac side effects and these were my symptoms -
Very dilated pupils
Weakness in my muscles
Foggy, poor concentration and memory
Some hair loss
Stomach upset diarrhea/constipation
Other symptoms were intermittent or one offs
Anxiety (panic attack)
My dilated pupils were causing mw real soreness and it can be really bad for your vision to allow so much light into the eye so Prozac was dumped and I was put on Effexor XR (37.5mg) instead.
I took them in the morning, I didn't have ant withdrawn problems if I ever took it late or anything.
My side effects during the first few weeks were
- Dilated pupils (these did eventually go down though)
- Constipation and bad bloating
- Bruxism (teeth clenching)
- Muscle Weakness (no power)
- Momentary black outs
- Blurry vision
- Tiredness and hard to concentrate
- Lack of sensitivity
- Room spinning
- Heart rate high, feeling jittery
Then over time most of these eased -
6 weeks in I still have some bruxism, constipation and bad bloating.
Over the course of 6 weeks I was back up to my normal weight again, feeling positive and happy. I had some PMDD symptoms before my first period, but was only 2weeks into taking Effexor. After 6 weeks and my second period, I had no sign of PMDD, just the usual bad cramps and tiredness but I can deal with that!!
The best advice I can give for anyone with PMDD
- write a journal or track your symptoms (mark out of 5 e.g. Mood swings, depression, sensitivity, overwhelmed, anxiety etc)
- do not settle until you find a Dr who is listening and recognises that this a hugely debilitating illness and that it may take a range of trying different things to find success.
- Think in terms of percentages. Each little thing you do might improve your life by just a small percentage, but the more things you try, the bigger liklihood that you begin to feel improvements.
E.g. Go to the Dr, try to eat better, try to exercise more, try mindfulness meditation etc.
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