Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that occurs in the runup to menstruation. The exact cause of PMDD is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by an abnormally severe reaction in the brain to hormone fluctuations that happen naturally throughout the menstrual cycle. Whilst symptoms are similar to PMS, the main difference is that PMDD symptoms can be so severe, they can impact relationships, performance at work and the ability to carry out normal everyday activities. Common symptoms of PMDD include irritabilty, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sometimes even suicidal feelings. It is currently estimated that 5-10% of women of reproductive age experience PMDD, which is likely a low estimate, due to lack of research in this area.
Common treatments for PMDD include contraceptive pills or antidepressants, which can have a number of side effects. If this is not the route you would like to take, there are supplements that can also help ease both physical and emotional symptoms of PMDD, with fewer side effects.
Calcium levels fluctuate naturally throughout the menstrual cycle and can impact other hormones, such as oestrogen. It is believed that women who experience strong PMS symptoms tend to be lacking in calcium. According to one study, calcium supplements can help reduce PMS symptoms, including bloating, fatigue, depression, mood swings and anxiety.
Vitamin B-6 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which plays a key role in regulating your moods and promotes feelings of happiness. Research suggests taking a B-6 supplement can help ease psychological symptoms of PMDD, including irritability, anxiety, and mood swings.
Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body and can help alleviate PMDD symptoms by reducing inflammation, regulating mood-moderating brain chemicals and relaxing muscles. According to one study, magnesium taken alongside vitamin B-6, may help ease PMS symptoms such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and breast tenderness.
St. John's wort
St. John’s wort is well known for its antidepressant properties and is commonly used as a herbal alternative to treat depression. It helps promote the production of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that affect your mood and are traditionally targeted by antidepressants. However it is important to note that St. John’s wort must not be taken alongside antidepressants, as this can cause serotonin levels to become dangerously high, known as serotonin syndrome. Many studies have found St. John’s wort to be effective at treating PMS symptoms, particularly depression and anxiety.
Chasteberry is a herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years to treat hormone -related gynecologic conditions. It contains a number of therapeutic compounds that can help regulate progesterone levels, a hormone that is associated with PMDD. Evidence suggests chasteberry supplements may help improve physical symptoms of PMS, including breast pain, bloating, headaches.
Ginkgo biloba is a Chinese herb known for its ability to improve memory, glaucoma and dementia, as well as PMS. Researchers have found that taking this herbal remedy daily can help alleviate both physical and psychological symptoms, by improving circulation, regulating mood-related chemicals in the brain and reducing inflammation.