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I receive a lot of questions from people about PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and what they can or should be doing about it. I recently got a message from a very concerned mother. I realized that this is one question that needed to be addressed publicly, so here goes.
The question went something like this:
Help! My teenage daughter is exhibiting a lot of rage around her periods. She seems fine the rest of the time, so I am afraid she might have PMDD. She is seeing a psychiatrist, but he says he can't be certain about PMDD. I don't know what to do. Do you have an advice?
I do, indeed, have some advice for Concerned Mom and for other parents out there who are dealing with a daughter's possible diagnosis of PMDD.
First, I'm not, nor ever have been, a parent. So I can only give you advice based on my own experience. That said...
If an absolute diagnosis is what you want/need, you'll need to chart your daughters symptoms for at least three months using a PMDD symptom tracker. There are many variations available, such as mevpmdd, or you can just make your own. In fact, it's a very good idea for you to track your daughter and for her to track herself. She may have blindspots, and you might harbor projections! Then take that to an MD who specializes or at least is familiar with PMDD. The Gia Allemand Foundation's Provider Directory may be able to help you in locating a practitioner in your area. Tracking is really the only way to know if PMDD is likely.
But keep in mind the doctor will likely want to prescribe what they always do...drugs...and unfortunately, there really aren't any that have ever been proven to really help PMDD, especially long-term. In fact, they can often make things worse or lead to new problems. You and your daughter will have to do your research and decide. Seriously, don't just blindly do what a doctor suggests. Follow your instincts on this.
The Best MEDS
The best approach, in my experience, is a different kind of MEDS. It's a life-change of diet, exercise, sleep, and meditation (or some form of mindfulness). Look into her diet. Is she eating GMO's, too much sugar or other stimulants, chemical additives or hormones? Could she be deficient in something like Magnesium? Is she getting enough sleep or trying to keep up with friends? Does she expel excess energy through sport or dance, or is she too sedentary? Does she need support in recognizing her own thought processes? Can she slow down or is she always going, going, going? Balance and self-awareness are key to managing symptoms.
In the meantime, love your daughter just as she is, and help her do the same. That doesn't mean you have to put up with crap, but understand if it is PMDD, she doesn't have any control when it takes a hold, and that quickly eats away at one's esteem.
Reach Out & Read
There are more resources than ever before for women living with PMDD and for their families. Don't lose hope. Knowledge is power, so read as much as you can stomach (I've written over 20 articles on the subject here) and ask questions on forums and in groups.
Give Her Tools
And finally, help her develop and remember to use coping tools. It takes practice to be able to turn to a tool and use it wisely when symptoms take hold. For example, she can learn to expel anger, preferably before it arises via Kundalini yoga, which offers some truly powerful exercises for "exorcising" anger. There are some videos available free on youtube. You'll find one of my all-time favorites here.
Let her know she can ask for and get space when she needs it. In fact, work together to create a sort of "emergency self-care kit". When things are at their worst, what would help? A dark, quiet room, a certain music, special chocolates, essential oils, a journal, a ready-made sign to hang on her door? Help her identify what soothes so she can help herself.
I hope this helps. Stay strong. If your daughter does indeed have PMDD, you may be in for a rocky ride. I truly believe, though, that PMDD is a condition meant to help us align with our truth, to learn self-love, and to show the way for others to find healing and balance. That's a very special assignment, and one the world truly needs.