Nobody likes PMSing, or all the bloating, cramping, and mood changes that accompany it. But for some people who live with mental illness, the hormones your body releases during your period can exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness. A new study has found that that’s exactly what happens for people with borderline personality disorder: Symptoms of borderline personality disorder worsen right before and during your period, and understanding this relationship may be key to preventing dangerous manifestations of those symptoms.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates between 1.6 and 5.9 percent of U.S. adults have borderline personality disorder — a mental illness characterized by emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, fear of abandonment, intense moods, bursts of anger, and an unstable sense of self. The new study, which was conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), examined the ways in which menstruation can impact these symptoms. Dr. Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the lead author of the study, said in a press release, “Our study provides the first evidence that females with borderline personality disorder are at risk for worsened symptoms during the perimenstrual window of their menstrual cycle — the week before and during menses.”
having borderline personality disorder means going from feeling euphoric and great for awhile then a small hint of rejection or abandonment comes and you spiral back into chronic emptiness.
— 💖💜💙princess cici👸🏼 (@ciciisaprincess) June 4, 2018
At the beginning of the study, 17 women with borderline personality disorder were asked to fill out questionnaires surrounding their mental health symptoms, any past traumas, and other personal details. Then, they each kept a daily journal about the symptoms they were experiencing, as well as the their menstrual symptoms, for thirty-five consecutive days. (Only 15 of the women completed the study.) Interestingly, when Dr. Eisenlohr-Moul and the researchers evaluated the participants with borderline personality disorder using the Carolina Premenstrual Assessment Scoring System — a worksheet that determine how severely your period impacts your mood — they found their mental health symptoms worsened an average of 30 percent in the days immediately before, and during menstruation. “This is equivalent to going from moderate depression to extreme depression on the rating scale,” said Dr. Eisenlohr-Moul.
Further, she explained that the researchers did not expect their participants with borderline personality disorder to have fluctuating or abnormal hormone levels during menstruation. Rather, she suggested that, “similar to [people] who suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome, [people] with BPD may simply be more sensitive to normal hormone changes, which we do know have an effect on mood.”
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