To give you a sense of what I am talking about, consider the 15-year-old who had suffered from progressive emotional disturbances ever since her periods began three years before coming to see me. About one week prior to each period, her anxiety levels would rise dramatically and she would become irritable, volatile and have great difficulty sleeping. On the first day of her period, relief would come and she would be back to normal, fearing the next go-round 21 days later.
During freshman year in high school, several events began to distress and socially isolate her. Doctors tended to minimize her problems, telling her this was normal in teenage girls. Eventually, in reaction to her stress and the suffering the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) would cause, she jumped off a bridge in a suicide attempt.
Although an extreme example, PMS is real and can be explosive. The name premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is now used in clinical medicine for severe cases. My goal going forwards is to explain in plain words how specific hormones that we all have in our bodies can provoke changes in the brains of some of us that cause this and many other conditions that I take on and treat regularly in my clinical practice.