Women Like Me: Mental Health and Your Cycle

Teen Girl Relax RiverI think I may have finally discovered a medicine that has made me feel like I never felt before. I almost feel like my old self again. I say “almost” because I’m really going to gauge it by my next menstrual cycle.

For women like me, whose menstrual cycle make them a little more “crazy” than usual, this is really a way to tell if medicine has been working or I am having a placebo effect. Evaluating a cycle combined with a new medication can also help our loved ones battle all of the above when we’re experiencing mental health issues and a menstrual cycle.

Without medicine, my menstrual cycle usually made me into the worst person to be around. On other medicines, it still made me the worst person to be around. My moods before and during are very strong. So a new medication would be a test to see how it really has affected everything.

And I’m not the only one.

I posted on my blog asking women the question, “How does your mental illness have an effect on your menstrual cycle (emotions)?” Here are some of the responses:

tempus comment 1

tempus comment 2

tempus comment 3

Mental health issues for women take on a whole different light when it comes to “Aunt Flo” parking it for seven days or more. I didn’t have a name for it until I looked up PMDD. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PMDD is “premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a condition characterized by intense emotional and physical symptoms that occur between ovulation and menstruation. In other words, PMDD is like supercharged PMS.”

What! You’re kidding me, right? So on top of menstrual symptoms and mental illness, there is PMDD! Now, how are PMDD and mental health problems alike? PMDD is listed in the DSM-IV as a “depressive disorder not otherwise specified.” The symptoms of PMDD are remarkably similar to those of major depression (MDD). Symptoms of both issues include:

  • Noticeable depression in one’s mood that can last all day, every day.
  • Unusual disinterest in normally pleasurable activities.
  • Fatigue, lethargy, or lack of energy.
  • Disturbance in sleep patterns—insomnia or hypersomnia.

Sounds remarkably similar to symptoms of other mental health issues as well, don’t you think? The menstrual cycle affects not only our bodies, but also our minds. If you have a mental health issue on top of that, a menstrual cycle can set that off or intensify it as well, putting you into a category that is untouched.

As I was writing this is my menstrual cycle has come and gone, and it was one of the easiest cycles I have ever had mentally. I didn’t feel angry or insecure. I didn’t feel moody or upset. I did have the occasional irritation at almost everything but I remember that being a part of my cycle before I discovered my mental illness. My medicine has really worked for me, and I’m excited to continue to track this.

Here are some sites and articles I found interesting about into mental illness and the menstrual cycles:

  • http://www.medicaldaily.com/vulnerability-stress-related-mental-illness-linked-menstrual-cycle-246228
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_psychosis

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  • 16 comments
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  • VictoriA

    VictoriA

    April 25th, 2015 at 11:28 AM

    I cannot even begin to tell you how happy it makes me that there is someone out there who gets it, who understand that things that I go through month after month with no real words to explain to anyone else what it is that I am feeling. Supercharged PMS is the best I have ever this described and I could not agree more! I just, this is something that has made me crazy over the years and honestly all of the doctors that I have even dared to bring it up with have all just been like well this is part of being a woman blah blah blah. Thanks for understanding that this is so much more than that!

  • Annie

    Annie

    April 25th, 2015 at 1:27 PM

    Would you mind letting us know what medication you are now taking?

  • Michele

    Michele

    April 26th, 2015 at 3:31 AM

    what medication?

  • Iris

    Iris

    April 26th, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    I am curious about something like the pill or depo provera which really does help with your period but does it help with the emotional things that so many of us go though? I mean I have been on the pill before and even if I didn’t really have much of a period I would still feel those emotional things that would generally go along with it.

  • Molly

    Molly

    April 27th, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    The most frustrating part of this for me has been that I have never felt like there is anyone who wants to listen to me about the way that I feel. I feel like they give me little snide or demeaning comments and that never really makes you feel better! You know that there is something going on but you feel this need to have someone acknowledge that this is real and when they don’t it makes you feel even worse.

  • Ohtemp

    Ohtemp

    April 27th, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    Yes right now I’m taking Prozac and it’s really helped me out!

  • zeda

    zeda

    April 27th, 2015 at 4:11 PM

    I have had pretty good success with Lexapro although it has made me hungry all the time and I have gained a little weight. Still overall I feel much better so I am just resigned to wearing my clothes a little tighter. It’s a trade off I guess.

  • paulina m.

    paulina m.

    April 27th, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    I have been taking primrose plus during the past three months. I am not sure if this is making any effect or not. Some overall improvements have been observed.

  • Melissa F.

    Melissa F.

    April 27th, 2015 at 6:46 PM

    What medication are you taking? Why write an article about the efficacy of it and not name it?

  • Summer

    Summer

    April 28th, 2015 at 2:41 AM

    Yes,what are you taking? I too have both mental health issues and PMDD. I would be interested in the information.

  • Clara

    Clara

    April 28th, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    You would hope that more doctors would talk with their female patients about this issue but sadly I still think that this is a conversation that is not being had.

  • Emily

    Emily

    April 28th, 2015 at 4:21 PM

    Thanks for this article,
    I get extreme depressive symptoms exactly three days before my menstrual period; very low mood, low self esteem, lethargy, complete lack of motivation and very negative self-thoughts. I have never had depression or any other mental disorder and I find that, although I usually release I feel the way I do because of my cycle and will usually be back to normal by the next day, it is very hard to cope with.
    It’s always comforting to know that you are not alone and this article made me feel a little less crazy so thank you!

  • jasmine t

    jasmine t

    April 28th, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    Would it also be safe to say that sometimes during the menstrual cycle of many women that this can lead to symptoms that would then mimic a mental illness, even though technically this wouldn’t be the case? I know that there are times during my cycle when I can get really down and depressed but then after a few days nit passes so I know that much of it every month has to be hormone related.

  • Kelsea

    Kelsea

    April 29th, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    To have a mental illness can be extremely hard but to then have the symptoms compounded by extreme PMS can be even more difficult and can feel like it can’t be managed. I don’t think that you can ever explain to anyone how this feels unless they have experienced some of it for themselves.

  • Lea

    Lea

    April 30th, 2015 at 1:19 PM

    It’s kinda a no brainer when you are giving praise to something out there that is helping you that women with similar issues are going to want to know what it is.

  • shay

    shay

    May 2nd, 2015 at 11:03 AM

    Do you ever get the feeling that this is the one thing that men so shy away from just because they have been the target of the rage in their lives and honestly they just have no real concept of what it is all about and how it feels. I think that they are scared to bring it up because of what our reaction might be and plus they don’t really know what to say because how can they in any way even relate to what it is that we are feeling? It’s not that I think that they are indifferent it’s just that they are kind of at a loss when it comes to PMS and the other drama that this frequently brings.

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