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Opinion - Handling emotional distress during your period

2021-11-26  Frieda Mukufa

Opinion - Handling emotional distress during your period
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Period depression; it is a legit thing that happens, hey. Some people, mostly men, just think women are being moody and/or overly reacting to certain things. However, during the time when a woman is on her periods, she can legit be depressed. 

For those who do not know, periods can cause plenty of uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms vary from person to person, but they often extend beyond physical discomfort like cramps, fatigue and headaches. As such, it’s very common to experience emotional distress during your period, including symptoms of depression. Depression and other mood changes often show up in the days before your period starts, but they don’t automatically disappear once it begins. They can linger for a few days, if not longer. Some people also experience depression after their period ends. 

Some people may assume that a woman is simply PMSing (premenstrual syndrome). However, that’s not always the case. Other than having fluctuating hormones that cause a change in mood and sometimes how we interact with people, there is also what is called PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Many health professionals describe it as the severe form of PMS. This doesn’t only involve symptoms such as mood swings and cramps, but goes beyond that. Some of the symptoms actually would require medical treatment at some point. Some of the symptoms are depression; unusual anger and irritability; changes in mood; problems with concentration; decreased interest in your usual activities; feelings of being overwhelmed or losing control; sleep problems, including insomnia or needing more sleep than usual; appetite changes, including cravings or increases in appetite; and physical symptoms like headaches, cramps, bloating and tender breasts. Apart from that, we also have severe symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks or thoughts of suicide.  If you get suicidal thoughts, please do contact your hotline to get assistance (+264 61 555422/ +264 811400222). 

For people who suffer from PMDD, it doesn’t just stop at having those symptoms; it also affects their day-to-day life. These symptoms become so severe and overwhelming that they start making you feel too unwell to go to work or school, creating tension or conflict in your relationships, disrupting concentration and focus, and affecting your ability to complete daily tasks. Now, please bear in mind that the next time your girlfriend, sister or female cousin or friend is on her periods, she might be going through all these symptoms at once. 

If you experience these symptoms, there is treatment. You may take up talking to a therapist on how to manage stress and anxiety during this time and/or find a doctor to prescribe anti-depressants for you. Most times, you will encounter health professionals who will tell you that your symptoms are not that bad. Please don’t lose hope in finding someone who will listen to you, and not dismiss your feelings. Keep in mind that only you alone know your body. Know that while some doctors might dismiss your symptoms as “not that bad,” others will listen and make a sincere effort towards helping you find relief. It’s often a matter of finding the right doctor, which can be a long, frustrating process. If you can’t switch healthcare professionals, don’t give up.

As for the outside people, please be kinder, understanding and do not invalidate how a woman feels when she is on her periods. If she is in pain, offer comfort. If you cannot offer comfort, I would suggest its best to let her be. Alternatively, you may get involved and ask her how to make her feel better during that time. 


• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.

2021-11-26  Frieda Mukufa

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