What is Dysphoria?

One of the distinct symptoms of PMDD is often overlooked. Dysphoria is the key word that differentiates PMS from PMDD. When do you know you are suffering from PMDD and not PMS? When the dysphoria takes over.... It's not called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder for nothing!

Dictonary.com describes Dysphoria as:

dys·pho·ri·a [dis-fawr-ee-uh, -fohr-] noun Pathology:
a state of dissatisfaction, anxiety, restlessness, or fidgeting.
Origin: 1835–45; < Neo-Latin < Greek dysphoría malaise, discomfort, equivalent to dys- dys- + phor ( ós ) bearing + -ia -ia              Related forms: dys·phor·ic  [dis-fawr-ik, -for-] adjective
 The Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary describes it as:

dys·pho·ria definition Function: n : a state of feeling unwell or unhappy compare EUPHORIA 

These definitions are very vague and something many people can relate to.
Wikipedia's definition is slightly more in depth:
Dysphoria (from Greek δύσφορος (dysphoros), from δυσ-, difficult, and φέρειν, to bear) is an unpleasant or uncomfortable mood, such as sadness (depressed mood), anxiety, irritability, or restlessness, experienced from very short periods of time up to a lifetime. Etymologically, it is the opposite of euphoria.
Dysphoria refers only to a condition of mood and may be experienced in response to ordinary life events, such as illness or grief. Additionally, it is a feature of many psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders and mood disorders. Dysphoria is usually experienced during depressive episodes, but in people with bipolar disorder, it may also be experienced during manic or hypomanic episodes. Dysphoria in the context of a mood disorder indicates a heightened risk of suicide.
Dysphoric mania, as described in the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, is "prominent depressive symptoms superimposed on manic psychosis." Symptoms include:
  • crying
  • curtailed sleep
  • racing thoughts
  • grandiosity
  • psychomotor restlessness
  • suicidal ideation
  • persecutory delusions
  • auditory hallucinations
  • indecisiveness
  • confusion

NOW we find ourselves in PMDD territory. Many women describe the dysphoria as a feeling of losing their mind, or going mad. All common sense is abandoned, things that were easy a few days ago, now become impossible. The mind is racing, sometimes tears come with the thoughts and painful emotions the dysphoria brings up.

Persecutory delusions are common. This is a feeling of paranoia, the idea that everyone hates you, that no-one believes you, that there is some conspiracy to keep help from you. That maybe you're just imagining it and are therefore a really bad person, or insane... that spiritually you deserve this and you will just have to suffer. Many PMDD sufferers feel like this at the bad times of the month, they can't believe they can't stop this, 'why can't I control it?'. These feelings of persecution can spur crazy reactions. Pushing family and friends away because you don't trust they believe you. Deleting friends on social networks, falling out and arguing with people, or simple closing the door on everyone emotionally, to keep yourself 'safe'. Hide away, they can't get you if they can't find you.... 

The other fear is that because there is no break in symptoms.. many women suffer EVERY month, sometimes twice a month. PMDD sufferers are very aware of the strain they put on the people around them. I know I personally feel like the people around me are going to get so fed up and bored of the eternal cycle that they will give up helping or trying to understand. I don't know if I could handle seeing someone I liked/loved go through this every month.

On the website www.dysphoria.info, they have a page about the definition of dysphoria. What's interesting is their use of describing dysphoria as a 'state of being'.
State of being, can be interpreted as state of existence. It is YOU and how you are at the moment in time. This is why it feels like dysphoria consumes and absorbs you. It is why it feels like you will always feel/be like this, but as all sufferers repeat the mantra 'this will pass' to remind themselves this is a temporary state, it is all too easy to get lost and be unable to feel any shred of normality – or should we say, non-dysphoric state of being.

I think it is important to learn about this part of PMDD. It is the part that causes the most distress. It is the part of the disorder that clouds our capable minds, and set's us off on a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions. Ladies become forgetful, distracted, withdrawn, clumsy, unable to make simple decisions, hopeless, easy to anger, frustrated.... Some can't bear loud noises or anything repetitive. They will almost always, feel like they are causing this, or creating it, or are imagining the symptoms. They will always feel a ton of guilt and be reliving past emotional traumas. The dysphoria traps you, paralyses you and steals a week or two of every month from you. Every month, without fail, the dysphoria hits and women feel guilty for not being able to stop it.

How many of you have thought, read up, or discovered what dysphoria means? Learn about dysphoria, so next time you tell someone you suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, you can explain the dysphoric part. I feel that word gets ignored and is very misunderstood, yet is the key reason this disorder is SO debilitating. When your thoughts are not your own, how can you trust yourself? How can you know you are making the right decisions? How can you know who to trust on the outside if you look within and don't find yourself?

How do you interpret your dysphoria?
What aspects of dysphoria do you experience?
How do you cope with it?

17 comments:

evanesce21 said...

I just really wanted to thank you for this. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but I was way too rapid cycling. It got REALLY bad. I felt like a burden and a liability for everyone around me. I was having my cycle every other week. Manic. Depressed. Manic. Depressed. Rinse and repeat. They put me on mood stabilizer and Depo. It has helped but I am not all the way there yet. I think I need to talk to my psychiatrist about PMDD. I have had cycle problems and wild mood swings for as long as I can remember.

Cat said...

I'm so glad it helped evanesce21. Get a mood chart started if you haven't done one already, and go armed to doc or psych with PMDD info.. there are some good links on my site for PDF's that you can print out. I hope you get some help, and thanks for reading and leaving a comment :). Cat xx
PS you can also find links to mood charts on my blog if that helps! xx

phoebecarter said...

Thank you Cat, I am so grateful I found you and the information you have given about PMDD. I thought I was going mad and needed a psychiatrist. Now I can go to the GP and get help with this. I was really scared and feeling I had no control over my daily life. You have really helped put things in perspective. Thanks to you I can give my children the mother they deserve. xxx

Kena Edawna said...

I have read this, and it makes so much sense! I was diagnosed with BP when I was 21, about 11 years ago, but I notice I get these exact symptoms about 1-2 weeks before my period starts, and then I feel fine. Do you think it's probable that I got misdiagnosed with BP? (I don't have the typical symptonms that BP does, although I have mixed episodes.) I take Lithium and Lamotgrine which help, but I still experience the mood changes, even have suicidial thoughts when it gets that bad! What Dr. should I talk to? (Psychiatrist, general dr, Psychologist, or Gyno? I am confused.) Thanks.

The Wifey said...

Thank you so much for your blog! You truly capture what PMDD feels, tastes, and sounds like. Reading your words does let me know I'm not imagining things or just plain crazy. I'm going to share your blog with my husband and family. I hope they too learn from you as I have. ❤

Cat said...

Thank you all for the lovely comments! I'm so glad my writing helps others.. your words help me to keep going, keep on writing and adding to the blog.. I always appreciate the fact that people have bothered to take the time to comment.. Thank you x

SoonerGirl24 said...

WOW! WOW! WOW!!!!!!!!! I have GOT to read this information to my husband! This explains me to a TEE! Unbelievable! All this time I have thought I was just some crazy woman! I even told all of my family not to come around me during the week or 2 before my period! Now I know why! OMG! Thank You! It has been getting so bad that it's taken an affect on my child. That's why I started doing my research and I'm so glad I found this! Now I can take this to my doc and get some help that I have needed for YEARS! Again, Thank you! Great site!

Unknown said...

I have sat here for the past hour and the tears won't stop flowing! I am so grateful I found you on FB and from there, your blog. It is nice to read the stories of other woman who have to deal with the same thing I do! I was just trying to explain it to my mom and sis-in-law how I was feeling and they just look at me like they don't get it. Thank you so much for being here and helping us!

Brittany White said...

Yes! I feel I can describe it but that feeling of no one believes its as bad as you say or that you cannot control it makes it all that much more frustrating. Its undescribable. And the thought that I am ultimately suffering and unable to control my thoughts or emotions 50% of the time makes my blood boil with anger! Thank you thank you for posting!

Brittany White said...

Yes! I feel I can describe it but that feeling of no one believes its as bad as you say or that you cannot control it makes it all that much more frustrating. Its undescribable. And the thought that I am ultimately suffering and unable to control my thoughts or emotions 50% of the time makes my blood boil with anger! Thank you thank you for posting!

Jade Hardrade-Grosz said...

I was diagnosed with PMDD last year and the knowledge has been life changing for me and my family. Being so out of control emotionally is damaging for us and for those we love as is the guilt we feel after the episodes pass.
I am currently taking cypralex which has really helped and I chart so we can all see it coming, about 5 days on the tramatic emotional roller coaster of dysphoria every three weeks! I often take to my bed for two days when the depression hits as I am fit for nothing - but - being aware that this is not real - this is hormonal - this is chemical - this is not me - really really helps!
I have been reading a lot about "mindfulness" lately and am going on an introduction course tomorrow !
May be this could help you too! Be kind to yourselves - love to my fellow suffers - JTB x

Briana Muller said...

Thank you. I was experiencing this today and reading your blog helped me.

Angie said...

Im glad I am not alone in the struggle. Noone understands around me I am entirely on my own and trying to raise my three year old as a single parent. I feel guilt all the time for not being a stable person. I am sick of being misdiagnosed and misunderstood. I wish I could create a mood chart but my cycle doesn't even stay the same. I completely skip my period some months and never know when I am going to be hit. With this warped out of body nightmare I am in.

Leora.Laurino said...

Five years...we struggled for five years. I couldn't stop the paranoia, the tight chest, the urge to cry from high pitched loud sounds, the self loathing, the cloudy thoughts, the struggle to fall asleep only to struggle to wake up in the morning, fighting to make decisions even for the simplest thing like shampoo, the anxiety, on and on. It just got worse and worse because I would feel guilty about what I said or felt last time. It never felt safe to talk about our relationship issues because I couldn't trust that it was really me speaking. So it ended last Thursday. We were both heart broken but felt it was the best bet for happiness.
I had put off dealing with my depression because I'm dirt poor and can't afford a doctor or a therapist. I know how prozac and zoloft reacts with my older siblings and it terrified me to become like them. Websites would say vitamins don't work so it didn't seem like there were any options.
But now I'm alone, and I have to live with myself. Hours upon hours of research to come across PMDD. The recommended diet list just erupted memories of when I wasn't like this (intermittently throughout my life) and I had eaten those items way more often. Where Vitamin B deficiency even explained my fingernail eating habit. And I became so excited that this could be the answer. Not the cure exactly but just SOMETHING to help.
But...it's too late for us isn't it. I abused this wonderful person in my life and I can't take it back. Now I'll never know if it could have worked if I had just been...better.

Angela said...

I totally feel your pain Leora.Laurino. I go through the same thing everytime I find someone I really like. I've know my condition for years and have explained it to men. Most times they don't care enough to stick around. They MAY care. Just not enough. So, I'm left with, "look what I've done". "I not good enough". When the reality is, it's just the opposite. You are worth what you warrant in life. It's so unique...so special that it's going to take a bit of universal unearthing to discover that "one". The one that's equipped with exactly what you need. What we want isn't always what we need and what we need outshines what we want. Hang tough and fight this fight with a vengeance and don't accept a warrior next to you and your daughter that isn't equipped. Find the lesson in the loss use it. Just something to remember as we go through. ❤❤

Angela said...

I totally feel your pain Leora.Laurino. I go through the same thing everytime I find someone I really like. I've know my condition for years and have explained it to men. Most times they don't care enough to stick around. They MAY care. Just not enough. So, I'm left with, "look what I've done". "I not good enough". When the reality is, it's just the opposite. You are worth what you warrant in life. It's so unique...so special that it's going to take a bit of universal unearthing to discover that "one". The one that's equipped with exactly what you need. What we want isn't always what we need and what we need outshines what we want. Hang tough and fight this fight with a vengeance and don't accept a warrior next to you and your daughter that isn't equipped. Find the lesson in the loss use it. Just something to remember as we go through. ❤❤

Jeri said...

I go through this every once in a while too .. I have been able to manage it with diet and exercise but when stressful things happen in my life and I'm about get my period ... all hell breaks loose! It actually scares me, I lose control at work and freak out on people unintentionally. I make my husband miserable and my kids ... i hurt their feelings and they get scared of me ... I think everyone hates me and I'm paranoid and suspicious of everyone. Totally manic totally out of control and totally lose myself. Then my period comes and in a couple of days I'm back to normal ... I've done so much damage that all i can feel is shame. My husband is amazing cause he doesn't take it personally anymore and he's supportive. My son's love me and know I don't mean it when I say mean things. I'm really not bad at all sometimes. .. but then once in a while it sneaks up on me and I'm sucked into a dreadful pool of hell. I know i need to have meds for back up .. not all the time ... just when i'm losing it.

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