PMS to the extreme: PMDD
By Chantal Nogbou, Acupuncturist at Dragonfly Acupuncture Leeds
Most months i see wonderful women, friends of mine struggling with the understimated and quite unknown condition called PMDD. More about what this means soon.
Their montly suffering is what inspired me to share more information about PMDD and how acupuncture can help in this blog.
Let us raise awareness and support these women. let us provide them with some tools they can use at these tough, debilitating times.
PMDD, also known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, is an extreme form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Like PMS, it affects women of reproductive age and can have both physical and emotional symptoms. However, the symptoms of PMDD are much more severe than those of regular PMS and if you suffer from PMDD, it can leave you unable to function normally for several days each month.
The symptoms of PMDD can be either physical or emotional, or both.
Breast tenderness, Abdominal cramps or pain, Muscle or joint pain, Headaches, Bloating, Changes in appetite, overeating or food cravings, Sleep issues, Fatigue
Mood swings, Feeling tearful, Anxiety, Depression, Irritability or anger, Feeling tense or “on edge”, Reduced concentration, Loss of interest in everyday activities, Feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, Suicidal thoughts
It is thought that somewhere between 2 and 8% of women of reproductive age suffer from PMDD. There is no specific test for the condition, but it can be diagnosed if you suffer from five or more of the above symptoms, starting 7-10 days before your period.
These symptoms will go away shortly after you start your period. If you think you may be suffering from PMDD, it is a good idea to track your symptoms over the course of a few cycles to see if there is a pattern. This will help you and your family or partner to know what to expect every month and be better prepared.
It is unclear exactly what causes PMDD but it has been linked to fluctuations in hormone levels throughout your monthly cycle. This has a knock on effect on neurotransmitters such as serotonin which leads to changes in your mood and emotions.
Can Acupuncture Help PMDD?
Acupuncture is an ancient oriental therapy which works by inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body. This is thought to restore physical and emotional balance, maintain health and treat disease. Acupuncture is well-known for treating the body and the mind side by side, and is used to relieve a wide range of different ailments. But can acupuncture help PMDD? How does it work?
Acupuncture works in a number of different ways. It influences the central nervous system to relieve pain and can help with PMDD symptoms such as headaches, abdominal cramps and muscle or joint pain.
It also stimulates the release of our body’s natural painkillers, endorphins. As well as reducing pain, these give you a sense of general well-being and relieve stress and anxiety.
Acupuncture can help to rebalance the levels of both hormones and neurotransmitters, meaning that it is ideal for conditions like PMDD. It addresses both the physical and emotional symptoms of this disorder and can offer much needed support through a difficult time of the month.
In addition to acupuncture, acupressure is a self-care technique that you can use safely at home to help to relieve some of the symptoms of PMDD.
Acupressure for PMDD or PMS
Acupressure for PMDD or PMS is a simple way to relieve your symptoms at home and to supplement your acupuncture treatment between sessions. Your acupuncturist may recommend specific points according to your individual symptoms, but some of the best general points for PMDD and PMS are:
Yin Tang (Seal Hall)
Location: On the midline of the forehead, between the inner ends of the eyebrows.
Method: Rest your thumb or forefinger on the point and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, then gently but firmly press down on the point until you feel a comfortable pressure. Keep breathing deeply as you hold the point for 1-2 minutes, or until you feel calm, then gently release.
Benefits: Calms the mind, relieves anxiety, improves sleep.
ST 27 – Great Gigantic
Location: On the abdomen, around three finger widths out from and three finger widths below the belly button. The point can be found on the edge of the abdominal muscles on either side of the body.
Method: Use the index fingers of both hands to find the points on both sides. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and press firmly but gently on the points. Hold for 1-2 minutes while continuing to breathe deeply, then release.
Benefits: Relieves abdominal pain and bloating, relieves anxiety and insomnia.
LIVER 3 – Great Rushing
Location: On the top of the foot, in a hollow formed at the junction of the first and second metatarsal (foot) bones (in line with the big toe and the second toe).
Method: Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together and use the index or middle fingers to find the points on both feet. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and press firmly but gently on the points. Hold for 1-2 minutes while continuing to breathe deeply, then release. If it is uncomfortable to sit in this position, you can press the points one at a time.
Benefits: Relieves irritability and depression, stabilizes mood, relieves headaches.
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