PMS, PMDD Tied to Increase Odds For Bulimia

Woman with bulimia in flowers

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

When it comes to PMS (premenstrual syndrome), there are many stereotypes associated with this condition. While many may make light of this situation with comments that down play the severity of the syndrome, such as “Don’t mess with her – she’s PMS’ing”, or the like, this creates stigmas for women who may deal with this.

PMS and other related menstrual disorders, such as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), can result in symptoms that can be particularly triggering for an individual who may be susceptible to developing an eating disorder, like bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

All jokes and comments aside, PMS and PMDD may cause women to experience a range of symptoms, including both physical and emotional, in the days leading up to their period (menstruation). While a majority of women are able to cope with symptoms effectively, more severe symptoms may become debilitating.

Signs and Symptoms of PMS/PMDD

Field of flowersWomen who experience PMS may experience physical symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal pain, headaches, muscle tension, digestive issue and more, which can lead to severe discomfort in the days before a monthly period. Emotional symptoms might influence sleeping disturbances, cause increased anxiety, depression, mood swings, personality changes and more. The combination of both emotional and physical symptoms can be unbearable for women who experiences severe bouts of PMS.

PMDD is a more severe form of PMS that also involves both physical and psychological symptoms about 7-10 days before the monthly period. Women experiencing PMDD may experience extreme mood changes or a degree of depression and anxiety that intensifies prior to the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Women with PMDD may also feel hopeless, find an increase of interpersonal conflicts, drastic changes in appetite, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can make even the most routine daily tasks difficult to complete.

Connection With Bulimia and Eating Disorders

For a woman who may have an eating disorder or be susceptible to engaging in eating disorder behaviors, many of the signs and symptoms associated with premenstrual disorders can be triggering and overwhelming. As an example, a woman who may be inclined to using food as a way of coping with depression or like conditions may lapse into binging episodes if experiencing severe bouts of mood swings associated with PMS or PMDD.

Changes in appetite that may result from PMS or PMDD can also influence abnormal eating behaviors or make it more challenging to maintain a normal relationship with food. A person who may already be inclined to eating disorder behaviors may find even the slightest disruption in eating behaviors and habits triggering or may engage in eating disorder behaviors as an attempt to troubleshoot.

Importance for Eating Disorder Professionals and Individuals

Girl in grass thinknig of advocating for selfFor professionals specializing in the eating disorder field, it may be helpful to understand and be aware possible comorbidities between premenstrual disorders and eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

If a premenstrual disorder is present and unaddressed, it may be helpful to co-treat with the eating disorder for optimal healing and recovery. Treatments for premenstrual disorders, such as PMDD and PMD may involve therapeutic interventions and medication management, including the use of anti-depressants and birth control.

For individuals who may suspect that a premenstrual disorder is co-occurring alongside an eating disorder, be sure to seek out the appropriate help and care. You may often need to advocate for yourself when it comes to your health and medical treatment, so be sure to voice your concerns. Seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in women’s health and/or menstrual disorders may be a good place to start.

With a diagnosis of PMS/PMDD and a treatment plan for therapeutically managing recurring symptoms, this can more effectively help address issues that are also influencing and/or triggering eating disorder behaviors. Know that there is help for these conditions you might be facing, and by appropriately addressing the premenstrual disorder, eating disorder symptoms

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

What has been your experience with PMDD/PMS and eating disorders?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 6, 2016
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