Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) characterised by significant emotional and physical symptoms that occur during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. It is a complex condition caused by hormonal fluctuations, specifically related to changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels. PMDD affects a subset of women and AFAB individuals and is estimated to impact around 5-10% of this population. Symptoms typically emerge in the two weeks preceding menstruation and can be so severe that they significantly disrupt daily life.
Common symptoms of PMDD include:
Mood Disturbances: PMDD can lead to intense mood swings, including feelings of irritability, anger, anxiety, sadness, and even severe depression.
Physical Symptoms: Women with PMDD may experience physical discomfort such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and fatigue.
Cognitive Changes: Some individuals with PMDD report cognitive disturbances, including difficulties with concentration and memory.
- Behavioural Changes: Severe cases of PMDD can lead to self-destructive behaviours, relationship strain, and impaired social functioning.
How Counselling Can Help:
Counselling offers a valuable support system for women and AFAB individuals dealing with PMDD by addressing the emotional and psychological aspects of the condition. Here's how counselling can be beneficial:
- Emotional Support: PMDD can cause intense emotional turmoil, including anxiety and depression. Counselling provides a safe space for individuals to express their feelings, receive validation, and gain emotional support. Talking to a counsellor can help individuals manage these emotions more effectively.
- Symptom Management: Counselling can equip individuals with strategies to manage the physical and emotional symptoms of PMDD. Therapists can help clients develop coping mechanisms for mood swings, cognitive disturbances, and physical discomfort.
- Coping Strategies: Individuals can learn practical coping strategies to deal with the impact of PMDD on personal and professional relationships. This can include strategies for communication, self-care, and stress management.
- Education and Awareness: Counselling sessions often include education about PMDD. Therapists can help clients understand their triggers and differentiate between emotions influenced by hormonal fluctuations and genuine feelings. Knowledge about the condition can empower individuals to take more control over their experiences.
- Customised Support: Counselling sessions are tailored to the individual's unique needs and can adapt to the varying symptoms experienced throughout the menstrual cycle. This flexibility allows for personalised support, addressing specific challenges that arise at different times.
- Support for Loved Ones: Counselling can also extend support to the loved ones of individuals with PMDD. It helps educate and create understanding among a couple, facilitating a more supportive environment.