shareWhen I see a trend in email inquiries, I like to discuss it here because I heard once that for every 1 letter you get, there are something like 10 or more others just like it that people want to write but don’t send.

So, lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails from women suffering from extreme PMS. Every month at a certain point–usually in the 7 to 10 days before their period–they say they feel depressed, suicidal, irrational, panicky and/or explosively angry. It’s not the “regular” PMS other women they know seem to get.

And, almost universally, these women say they don’t know what’s wrong with them. They feel alone, scared and confused. And, they ask me if I’ve ever heard of their problem before.

I tell them that, to me, it sounds like they could have “premenstrual dysphoric disorder” (PMDD)–a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome.

It’s estimated that PMDD affects up to 10% of menstruating women. So, while it’s a minority of women who experience it, it still means there are millions who are dealing with this frustrating condition.

Yet, surprisingly, many of those who may have it are totally unaware this condition exists.

PMDD may be caused by a sensitivity to hormone fluctuations, health conditions and/or lifestyle factors, such as nutritional deficiencies and poor sleep.

There are many treatments for this condition, including pharmaceutical approaches, taking certain supplements and herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes.

There are two important reasons I’m bringing up PMDD to you today:

1. If you think you have PMDD, I want you to know you’re not alone–and there is help. Talk with your healthcare provider (your gynecologist, general practitioner, nurse practitioner or naturopath) or a mental health professional (psychologist or psychiatrist) about it.

2. If you think you know a woman who has PMDD, tell her, “I think your extreme PMS could be PMDD.” Then, share the important information about this condition I just shared with you. Here’s why:

The most worrisome part of the emails I’ve been receiving from women with extreme PMS is that they’ve never heard of PMDD. They don’t know there are other women out there with this condition. And, they don’t know there’s help.

But, it’s not their fault. We can’t expect all the information about everything we need to know to be given to us by one doctor or one therapist or one naturopath. Important health information comes from many, many sources, such as books, reputable health websites, health blogs (like mine) and second, third and sixth opinions from healthcare providers.

And, probably most importantly, health information can come from you.

You’re the person friends, family members and colleagues confide in, sharing worries about their health or well-being. You see them on a regular basis, so can detect behavioral changes.

So, when someone you know mentions her “bad” PMS or you can see her whole demeanor and personality change for the worse on certain days every month, speak up. Tell her about PMDD and suggest she talk with a healthcare or mental health professional about it because there are a variety of treatments available.

Together we can spread the word about PMDD and get more women the help they need to be happier all cycle long.

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 [Photo: Mark Belokopytov]