Understanding Your PMDD
PMS or Depression?
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I'm almost 19 years old. A week before my menstrual period, I start to feel really sad and awful things suddenly come to my mind or I lock myself in my room. I have even insulted or hurt people when I feel this way. My friend said this happens because of my hormones, but I don't really think so, because it's been controlling me for the past two years. Is this depression or just a "girl thing"? What can I do to make it better?
— Joanna, North Carolina
What you are experiencing is very common. It is a type of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS). The mood changes are brought on by the fluctuations in hormonal levels that occur throughout the menstrual cycle. Some women are more sensitive to these variations in hormones than others.
Some women experience relief of their symptoms by making changes in their diet, such as eliminating high-sugar foods and increasing protein and high-fiber foods, and by getting more physical exercise. Low doses of antidepressants taken a week or ten days before your period can also help. If your symptoms persist in spite of a healthy diet, restful sleep, and plenty of exercise, be sure to tell your doctor and get evaluated for prescription treatments. Don't feel you have to "tough it out" — there are useful medications that can help, even in situations such as yours.
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