Menstrual Disorders and their Impact on Mental Health
Have you ever faced any issues with your periods? Does your period seem to be affecting other aspects of your life?
Menstruation or Periods as it is more commonly known is a condition undergone by most cisgender females and is a marker of puberty. Different people undergo different experiences with periods. Most people get it around the age of 10-12 however there are exceptions and people do at times get it earlier or later on in life as well. Despite the taboo that surrounds the concept of periods, it is an important bodily function and helps in purifying the body of bad blood. It is important to understand the importance of periods so that we can understand how excess or lack of periods may be affecting our daily work.
Many people are still unaware of the various disorders that women may undergo because of their menstruation cycles. Not all menstrual cycles are the same. Many people have very deviant menstrual cycles that either exceed the set number of days which are generally considered normal or last for extremely short periods. Not only the duration but also the flow is an important factor that may deviate from person to person and cycle to cycle. Time and flow are two of the many factors along with experienced moods that help figure out if there is a certain disorder that the person may be undergoing. Often people do not ask for help and do not go to doctors about their menstrual issues because they are unaware of the various disorders and find it hard to talk about. However, it is important that awareness is spread and people suffering from menstrual disorders are identified at the early stage so effective treatment and also preventive measures can be administered.
There are multiple different kinds of menstrual disorders, some of which include – PCOS, Menorrhagia, Dysmenorrhea, Menorrhea, Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding, Premenstrual Symptoms, and Oligomenorrhea, Amenorrhea among others. Many of these disorders are disorders that you may be hearing about for the first time, which shows a lack our knowledge in the field of menstruation. We must be made aware of such menstrual disorders so that we can prevent further complications and implement a treatment plan. Another thing that most people may not know about is the link between menstrual disorders and mental health. Multiple mental health issues arise or come with the onset of menstrual disorders. These include Perimenopausal Depression, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). These mood disorders associated in some way or the other with the various menstrual disorders can lead to reduced quality of life and may interfere with the relationships and lifestyle of those suffering from them. Hormonal fluctuations increase the vulnerability of individuals towards certain mental illnesses like depression.
Hormonal imbalances play a huge role in menstrual disorders as well as in mental disorders. Hormones help in regulating multiple behaviors as well as bodily functions. Hormone dysregulation can lead to various physical and mental disorders. Various neurotransmitters play a significant role in mental health and it is important to understand how menstrual disorders may be linked to certain hormones and neurotransmitters so that the issues can be dealt with in the correct way. If for example you are low on a certain hormone and have been given medication for it but you also have an underlying issue because of certain neurotransmitter dysregulation if it does not gel well with the medication given there may be other issues that may arise. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness and seek help and get ourselves checked up on an annual basis and keep track of our medical records.
Among the various factors that affect and aggravate menstrual disorders, one of them is stress. Stress tends to impair the ovarian cycle through the activation of the HPA axis which is the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis. Stress-induced impairment of ovarian function may not necessarily manifest as menstrual irregularity, and the effects of stress may persist beyond the cycle in which the stress episode occurred. The body’s response to stress tends to lead to distress in hormonal balance and other processes in the body and the psychological stress that an individual undergoes can also influence their menstruation cycles in multiple ways. It is important to understand the relationship that stress has with both menstrual disorders and mental illnesses as that can help not only in facilitating research in the field of menstrual disorder and aid in the implementation of prevention and treatment but also help in understanding the link between menstrual disorders and mental health.
Another link that has been found through research between menstrual disorders and mental health is that of bipolar disorder and its symptoms. Although it cannot be said for sure whether bipolar disorder may induce the onset of certain menstrual disorders or whether menstrual disorders lead to bipolar disorders, it has however been found that they do impact each other in some way or the other. It has been found that disorders like PMS and PMDD which are mental disorders caused due to other menstrual disorders can worsen bipolar symptoms therefore when medications are prescribed it is important to be aware if you are suffering from any mental disorder and let your doctor know since otherwise the medications prescribed to aid in managing and treating certain illness may aggravate other illnesses. For example, for the depressive symptoms of PMS and PMDD individuals are often prescribed various SSRIs which target certain neurotransmitters like serotonin however these may aggravate the bipolar symptoms and cause manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder.
Thus, we can see that it is extremely important that awareness is spread about not only menstrual disorders but also about the link between menstrual disorders and mental health so that early psychological and gynecological counselling can be provided to prevent future complications.
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