Tuesday, 13 September 2011

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?

6 comments:

Walstin said...

The most clear, accurate and concise explanation of how I actually suffer. Thank you :) xx

suef67 said...

excellent write up, my symptoms are ticking every box, much easier to understand now, hopefully easier to deal with. Dont wish this on anyone, but not feeling alone with this helps too, helps me stop thinking its all in my head (as one doctor aggressively told me). Thank you xx

Cat said...

Thank you for your comments :)
It is always lovely to receive feedback and know that people are reading my blog.
I'm sorry you are both suffering, remember you are not alone. Feel free to email me (pmddsupport@hotmail.co.uk) or join my support group on Facebook if you need to talk to someone.
I feel the 'dysphoric' part or our disorder is never really explained to sufferers, yet it is one of the main reasons we suffer so badly on the emotional level.
Please pass the link on to whoever you think may benefit.. other sufferers or friends and family... and check back soon for more articles. Lots of love, Cat xx

BethAnne6218 said...

"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."

This is it exactly. Thank you for describing what we go through so accurately.

Liesel said...

Thank you for this article and thank you for your blog. I have just discovered your blog and I am so hopeful that many of your coping strategies may help me out too. I love your philosophy's.
I have never really thought about the dysphoric part of pmdd and this truly gave me a light bulb moment. So much of it rings true to what I experience.
I am heading over to facebook to facebook to look for your group.

Amysue said...

I believe my 24 yr old daughter suffers from PMDD. Unfortunately, she is in the military and deployed overseas so finding treatment will difficult until she gets back. After reading about this, I believe she has suffered from this since high school. I have struggled as her Mother to figure out how I can help her as the symptoms seem to cycle around every month. I have often thought this is connected to her menstrual cycle and even had her hormones checked at one point but, most doctors want to poo poo the young woman who says she feels her hormones are not right. She has never found anything that helps. She is very athletic, very fit, eats as health as she can in the military, takes various supplements but still feels severe depression, anger, sleeplessness, etc, etc, etc. My heart aches when I her her voice on the other end of the phone and she sounds like she just wants to give up on life. She is the one who sent my this link and also another blog from Dr Oz and said "mom this is exactly how I feel every month!" If there are Rx she can talk to a doctor about please let me know.

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