Complementary Approach to Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Article Provided by http://www.amitayus-wellbeing.co.uk
Around 5% of menstruating women suffer from Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. The symptoms can be so severe that women feel suicidal in the days before a period. A number of alternative therapies can help the condition explains Dawn Hart.
For the percentage of women who suffer from Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) the symptoms of the condition are so severe that they can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts. In the weeks building up to a period women with PMDD often feel overwhelmed by daily life and unable to function normally at work and at home. They often have increased anxiety levels, mood swings, violent out bursts and a feeling that they are out of control. Other physical symptoms can include an increase in body temperature, palpitations, forgetfulness and difficulty sleeping. Symptoms build up over several days and in a severe attack can leave the sufferer with severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts, yet as soon as a period begins symptoms disappear. Most women suffering from PMDD agree that the most productive and normal week of their cycle is during a period.
With such severe symptoms it is inevitable over time that the condition will affect relationships with husbands, children and work colleagues, which can be distressing for the PMDD sufferer.
In order for a GP to make a correct diagnosis of the condition the sufferer must first keep a diary of their menstrual cycle for a minimum of three months. A pre-designed diary can be downloaded from the Facts for Health Website at www.pmdd.factsforhealth.org, this can be used to track symptoms in detail to show a GP exactly what is going on emotionally and physically at certain points in the cycle.
Once the diary is complete the symptoms can be discussed with a GP, but while most are sympathetic to the condition, conventional medicine is limited in the treatments available, with most suggesting the use of hormones or an anti-depressant such as Fluoxetine, which is more commonly known as Prozac.
While a great deal of research suggests that Fluoxetine is successful at treating the symptoms, the drug may need to be prescribed on a long-term basis. Side effects to the drug can include headaches, nervousness, nausea, diarrhoea, itching, and low sex drive. While the manufacturers of Fluoxetine suggest that the side-effects do subside, sufferers of PMDD should question how beneficial it would be to live life on prescribed medication when there are other alternatives available that can alleviate the symptoms.
Treating PMDD with complementary medicine
While complementary medicines are by no means a quick fix to the condition in quite the same way as anti-depressants, if taken regularly symptoms will improve. Here are just a few alternatives that have shown to be beneficial in the treatment of PMDD.
This is a safe dietary supplement which when taken in a dosage of 4 grams a day has shown to reduce some of the symptoms associated with PMT and PMDD.
This is an adaptogenic herb that improves mood by working on the hypothalamus to enhance the transportation of serotonin in the brain.
This herb from the Chaste Tree regulates progesterone levels in the body by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) and decreasing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in the pituitary gland. Study trials of the herb have shown that an improvement in symptoms could be seen after just four weeks of daily use.
This herb has been used for thousands of years as a tonic for the female reproductive system. It helps to promote uterine health and regulate the menstrual cycle. As an adaptogen Dong Quai will work successfully with either high or low Estrogen levels and can be used in combination with Vitex.
Sepia and Pulsatilla are successfully used to treat the depression associated with PMDD. A dosage of 30c is recommended twice a day for the 14 days prior to menstruation.
Taking Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamin B6 as daily food supplements will also help to reduce the symptoms of PMDD.
A gentle foot massage will not only help to alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety but it will also help to balance out the hormone levels. A Reflexologist should work on the reflexes of the foot that correspond with the endocrine system, which regulates the body’s hormone levels, and gently massage the reflexes that correspond with the reproductive system.
Aerobic exercise is beneficial in regulating hormone levels; it increases the level of endorphins, which are the body’s mood enhancing substances. PMDD sufferers should also try incorporating either Tai Chi or Yoga in to a fitness regime; both combine relaxation techniques with gentle exercise.
PMDD sufferers should ensure that they get a full 8 hours sleep each night and try to stick to a regular sleeping pattern even on weekends.
It is important not to aggravate the symptoms by eating and drinking products, which will have a negative effect on mood. Women with PMDD should avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, and reduce their intake of salt and sugar. They should increase their intake of complex carbohydrates and protein. One of the side effects of PMDD is over eating, so women with PMDD should try and eat smaller more frequent meals to combat this.
At our own clinic, Amitayus Wellbeing we often use a combination of Reflexology treatments, Herbal supplements and Aromatherapy to help women with PMDD and PMT get their lives back on track. An initial course of Reflexology treatments on a fortnightly basis for four sessions, followed by monthly treatments in the later part of the menstrual cycle can have a noticeable effect on symptoms. In additional we provide our clients with nasal inhalers containing a combination of aromatherapy oils that are hormone balancers and anti-depressants. Inhalers can be used safely throughout the menstrual cycle and clients comment that they feel calmer using this combination of treatment. Once the clients hormones are balanced the depression associated with PMDD & PMT seem to dramatically reduce and in some cases disappear.
All too often sufferers of the disorder feel as though the symptoms rule their life, but through a balanced diet, gentle exercise, the use of herbal remedies and complementary therapies it is possible to live with PMDD. Learning how to manage the symptoms, and by putting coping strategies in place you can beat PMDD.
About the writer:
Dawn Hart is a Complementary Therapist and founder of Amitayus Wellbeing, 189 Long Street, Atherstone, CV9 1AH.Tel:01827 719926.
ÓDawn Hart 2005
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