Suicidal thoughts are relatively common in the general population, with roughly 10% of individuals reporting suicidal thoughts at some point in their life.
For those with PMDD, lifetime experiences of suicidal thoughts or behaviors are even more common.
The specific reasons for suicidal thoughts and behaviors are unique to each patient.
In general, though, suicidal thoughts emerge when emotional distress or pain is high, and an individual feels hopeless (i.e., when someone feels that their emotional distress or pain will never change). This is especially common in response to stressful events involving other people, such as arguments, breakups, or feeling rejected. These painful experiences often lead people to feel trapped and want to escape, which leads to thoughts about suicide.
In PMDD, of course, emotional distress tends to peak in the luteal phase, when the PMDD brain has an abnormal response to changes in the metabolites of hormones. This abnormal emotional response to normal cycling hormones can be seen in daily emotion ratings but has also been demonstrated in brain imaging studies as well as in brain cells grown from the genetic material of people with PMDD.
So again, these biological sensitivities in the brain lead to feelings of intense emotional distress in the luteal phase, and may also lead to feelings of hopelessness about improving one’s situation.
When these factors happen together, particularly when social stressors are involved, suicidal thoughts can emerge. Often in PMDD, these feelings go away after menstrual occurs.
Help and support when suicidal
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not alone and help is available. In the short term, you can reach out to a trusted family member, doctor, or therapist to ask for help in staying safe, or you can reach out to local emergency services or the national suicide helpline via phone or online chat here or locate help closer to you here:
Evidence-based treatment of PMDD
In the longer-term, treatment of PMDD should help to alleviate suicidal thoughts. Check out our evidence-based treatment options to determine which treatment options might be right for you.