Do you feel suicidal before your periods? Here’s why it happens

In a series of tweets from Shehla Rashid, a young activist from JNU students union and a prominent figure in the Delhi circle, has spoken out about an issue which has been personally been affecting her and is also a vital subject from the perspective of women’s health.  She has narrated her experience through a twitter thread

Do you feel suicidal before your periods? Here’s why it happens

Rashid, the former Vice-President of the JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) Students’ Union, admitted that she suffered from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD.

She wanted to bring awareness to this issue which is rarely discussed. PMDD is a severe form of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that can drive you to think about ending, or end, your life. PMS and PMDD are due to hormonal changes. It’s an underreported condition. Often gets misdiagnosed or even unexpressed

What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?

Premenstrual syndrome is a set of physical and psychological symptoms that start anywhere from a few days to two weeks before a woman gets her monthly period (menstruation).

Many women experience breast tenderness and abdominal pain, for instance. Other symptoms include headaches, back pain and joint or muscle ache. Water retention, sleep problems or digestion problems, skin blemishes and food cravings may occur too.

Women who have PMS often feel exhausted, insecure, down, listless, irritable or angry in the days leading up to their period. Some have problems concentrating and experience mood swings. They might feel like they are losing control over their body and emotions. Severe PMS can really affect your everyday life and your relationships with friends, family, partners and colleagues.

PMS that is so bad that it significantly affects mental health – leading to things like depression or anxiety – is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

While speaking to My Medical Manta, Dr Vilas Bhole, a Gynaecologist and Secretary, Indian Medical Association Jalgaon, said, “Due to hormonal imbalance, girls and women suffer from Pre-Menstrual Syndrome before the menstrual cycle. The pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder is one part of the Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. In these cases, the women or a girl thinks about committing suicide. But, the cases are very rare.”

Dr Aditi Acharya, an M.D. psychiatrist, said, “Due to the effects of PMDD, women can make hasty decisions if they are feeling suicidal. They may overthink about a particular issue. PMDD is a severe form of PMS, it is caused due to hormonal imbalance. When compared to PMS, the cases of PMDD are few in number. It has been observed in 5-10% of women.”

Dr Sagar Mundada, a consultant psychiatrist at Health Spring Clinic, Mumbai, said, “Women who suffer from PMDD experience mood swings, feel irritable and go into depression., they begin to contemplate about suicide if the severity of the condition worsens.”

Causes

The causes of PMS are not completely clear. But it is thought that hormonal fluctuations during a woman’s monthly cycle play a role. Although women who have PMS don’t necessarily have abnormal hormone levels, they might react particularly sensitively to the substances that are produced when progesterone is broken down. This hormone is mainly released in the second half of the menstrual cycle, before the woman’s period starts.

It is also thought that progesterone might affect neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. Serotonin apparently plays an important role here. Genes and environmental factors probably affect the likelihood of getting PMS too.

Prevalence

Most girls and women have mild PMS every now and then in the time leading up to their period.  But it hardly affects their lives.

About 20 to 40% of all girls and women have several more severe PMS-related problems that clearly affect them.

In 3 to 8% of them, these problems – particularly the psychological problems – are so bad that they are unable to go about their everyday lives. The medical term for this is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Source: NCBI