The Beginner’s Guide to PMDD: Get Relief Now

Woman curled in fetal position with her arms clutching her abdomen.

Dear Selfless Esteem,
My granddaughter has been diagnosed with PMDD. What can I do from a mental health perspective to help her?
Signed,
Guardian Grandmother

Dear Guardian Grandmother,

I’m sorry to hear about your granddaughter’s diagnosis. But thankfully, she has a good grandmother taking care of her.
✿◕ ‿ ◕✿

What Is PMDD?

Before I answer, I’ll summarize the diagnosis. PMDD is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder as defined in the DSM-5, which is the latest version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual.

According to the DSM-5, symptoms may include the following: mood swings, increased sadness and/or anger, hopelessness, anxiety, thoughts of self-criticism, decreased interest in activities, lack of focus, lethargy, change in appetite or amount of sleep, feeling overwhelmed, and various physical symptoms. Thus, PMDD can affect mood, behavior, sleeping patterns, energy level, and physical symptoms. This in turn can negatively affect thoughts and interactions with others.

For more information, see the Mayo Clinic’s article explaining the similarities and differences between PMDD and PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health article about PMDD.

How Do I Treat PMDD?

A Team Approach

First of all, put together a team of professionals, starting with her physician, who can give a physical examination and make referrals. Then, find a competent therapist, who can help with unhealthy thought patterns and negative emotions. The therapist will also make referrals as needed. (See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”)

It’s important for your granddaughter to collaborate with the team, consistently attend all appointments, actively participate in therapy sessions, and follow through with the treatment plan. Be sure to request the medical team to explain to her how her menstrual cycle affects her mood and energy level and how to increase awareness of the stages of her menstrual cycle.

Likewise, build a strong support system of family, friends, and school personnel to help as needed on difficult days. For example, discuss with the school nurse how the school can support your granddaughter.

Coping Skills for PMDD

At the same time, your granddaughter can develop coping skills and practice them during the more energetic part of the menstrual cycle so that she’s better prepared to use them when her body’s in the premenstrual part of the cycle. For ideas, consult with the therapist and see “6 Effective Ways To Manage Stress.”

I recommend self-care for your granddaughter, such as soaking in a bathtub, spending time with pets, or enjoying nature. (You may also be interested in the post, “Managing Chronic Health Problems.”) As a caregiver, you’ll benefit too from using self-care techniques and taking breaks.

fruit and vegetables photo by Sage Media Marketing
Photo by Sage Media Marketing and Jenni Marie Photography

The Physicians Committe of Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has a helpful article entitled “Using Foods Against Menstrual Pain.” According to PCRM, dairy products are some of the foods to avoid. For this reason, check out the site, “girl named Christian,” for delicious dairy free recipes, such as snacks and even mashed potatoes.

Prayer

Most of all, pray to God, who has the power to heal (Jeremiah 17:14). He hears our prayers. (See Billy Graham’s explanation about God’s answers to prayers.) And He loves you and your granddaughter so much. (For more details, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.”)

I close with an encouraging verse. 🌻

“Look, my God will help me.
    My Lord will support me” (Psalm 54:4 ERV).

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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