10 bits of advice for Partners of those who have PMDD

As a partner of someone with PMDD, you may find some of the following advice helpful. Remember that PMDD expresses itself differently for each person and so what works for one person may not work for another! However, some common themes of advice seem to come up again and again:

Build a strong relationship during the good times.

Capitalise on when your partner feels good, enjoy the good times! PMDD relationships need more strength than regular relationships to withstand the monthly PMDD storm. Work as a couple on the usual relationship fundamentals: mutual trust, understanding, validation, appreciation, kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Learn to differentiate between the symptoms of PMDD and the person.

They aren’t the same! Once you start separating the person from the PMDD you may be able to recognise what behaviours are a direct result of the condition. It may help you to cope with the situation better and help you review the last episode more objectively.

Keep discussions around relationship issues and PMDD in the follicular phase.

Try to avoid discussing PMDD issues during PMDD time. When you are in a burning building, it’s not the time to have a fire safety discussion! Your partner may be in survival mode and not in the mode for a ‘heart to heart’ and the capacity to deal with complex relationship issues will be reduced,

Build your partner up, don't tear them down.

Heaping guilt on your partner is like putting holes in a boat that is already sinking. Blaming & criticism adds suffering to someone who is already suffering. Don't attribute blame to what can be PMDD symptoms.

Encourage your partner to seek medical treatment from a competent medical professional who understands PMDD.

Treatment is available and a good professional can change lives.

Plan for PMDD & mutually set boundaries.

Put it in the diary, don’t feel you can’t postpone/cancel existing plans. Discuss with your partner how you might both manage the luteal phase. Be realistic in your expectations. Mutually agree healthy boundaries that try to protect each others wellbeing.

Look after your own mental health and well-being.

Sometimes a partner can become an inadvertent carer. You may find that your partner’s negative emotions focus on you and it takes resilience to not be overwhelmed. Take time away if you need it and find your own outlet.

Talk to other partners in the same situation. Check out some of the resources available, there is strength in knowing you aren’t alone. Get help when you need it. From a friend, a professional, or a family member- recognise when you need help.

Don’t underestimate the impact of little things.

PMDD can exaggerate and inflate little stresses or worries into all consuming, overwhelming problems. Where you can, keep the house right, tidy up, create a peaceful environment, and remove some of those stressors, big or small.

Give space and get space.

For many sufferers, the symptoms can become overwhelming, and being alone may be what she wants. Having another human to interact with when you are hitting rock bottom may just add complexity to an already complex situation. It is important to recognise that the best thing you can do is allow yourself some space to recover.

Don't take it personally.

PMDD sometimes needs something or someone to blame. Recognise that PMDD and its accompanying symptoms aren’t your fault. You don’t need to feel responsible for the things you can’t control.

You haven’t failed if your partner has a bad episode, feels depressed or is suffering.