Mood stabilizers for PMS/Perimenopause?

SnarlsSnarls Posts: 2,537Registered Users
Has anyone ever taken prescription mood stabilizers to treat irritabilitility and impulsive thoughts (yes, just thoughts, not actions) associated with PMS and perimenopause? It's ok to pm me if you don't want to post.

Two medications used to treat bipolar disorder were suggested to me: lamictal and depakote. I'm already familiar with the side effects (short and long term) of each of these medications and I do not want to take them. Also, I have absolutely no reason to believe that I suffer from a bipolar disorder and Mr. Castella supports me on this. It sounds like killing a fly with a hammer to take relatively heavy duty drugs continuously for a problem that pops up one week every month.

I already take fish oil, vitex (chasteberry), primrose oil, coenzyme q10 and calcium and have been for quite some time. I also take antidepressants, and have tried both increasing the dose and changing to a different AD. Exercise regularly and practise focused breathing to deal with panic and anxiety.

I'm frustrated. 20 years ago I was looking for help and had a similar experience. No one ran blood tests, no one checked hormones, no one asked about diet or exercise, they just kept throwing medications at me and increasing the dose until I was literally a zombie. Finally I found a doctor who was able to do more for me than sign his signature to a prescription. I hate that this is happening again.

I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I really haven't heard of depakote in particular being prescribed for PMS (and I've read that lamictal can actually intensify PMS symtoms).
formerly Castella
(my dogs aren't snarly, my hair is)


  • hmkennyhmkenny Posts: 1,467Registered Users Curl Connoisseur
    I had some serious PMS in early 2007. I had severe mood swings over which I didn't feel I had control and which I hadn't previously experienced ever. I was also depressed much of the time. Quite a few women I spoke with about it told me they went on anti-depressants and it helped them. I discussed it with my doctor and she prescribed Wellbutrin and it did the trick for me. The longer I was on it, the more I realized how depressed I had been. I guess I learned to live with it all these years. Anyway, I think a mild antidepressant with minimal or no side effects is worth discussing with your doctor.

    I have also read good reviews on a couple of supplements. The supplements themselves don't make specific claims (I don't think). They just kind of imply what they'll do for you but a number of reviewers swear by them, so hear they are for you to check out:'s-Wellness


    I have no first hand experience with either one but if symptoms arise I will try them.
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  • pigreyhoundpigreyhound Posts: 764Registered Users
    I also took Wellbutrin for perimenopausal mood changes and it did help. I can see why you feel that the meds for bipolar are a bit much at this point. Did the doctor explain why they felt that this med was a better choice than an SSRI? (Wellbutrin and etc. are SSRIs, typically used for depression)
    Do you feel that you might need a new doctor? If no one has run blood tests or tried other meds first, I can understand why you would be wary of the Depakote.

    It sounds like you are being pro-active in your healthcare so perhaps seeking out another doctor would be a good idea OR asking for more information about why s/he feels that the meds for bipolar are appropriate.

    I had severe PMS that required quite a few medications to control in my 20s and 30s. What finally worked for me was a Chinese herbalist/acupuncturist. So you may want to explore other avenues of treatment as long as you don't feel you are in any kind of immediate danger from the mood swings.
    Growing out my curls. White hair, fine to medium texture but a lot of it. Low to medium porosity. Botticelli curls -- 2c/3a mix. My hair loves protein.
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  • KurlyKarenLeeKurlyKarenLee Posts: 1,048Registered Users
    I started taking Celexa in March, along with practicing Yoga on a regular basis, for anxiety/depression. Everyone has noticed an incredible difference in my b#tchiness. My husband calls it my anti-b#tch medicine. He begs me not to stop taking it! It has also helped my OCD tendencies.

    I'm not really sure if it's the medicine or the Yoga that's made a difference, but I feel so much better and I'm afraid to make any changes to what I'm doing.

    You can say what you want about the South, but you never hear of anyone retiring and moving North.
  • SnarlsSnarls Posts: 2,537Registered Users
    I went through quite a few antidepressants/anti-anxiety/mood stabilizing (although they weren't call that, then) meds back in the 80s. There wasn't much to choose from back then and the side effects weren't easy to live with.

    I was fine until I hit 41 and it's been downhill since then. I truly believe this is tied to changes in hormonal levels which naturally occur at this age.

    I don't have much control over who I see as a physician. I belong to an HMO (pretty much the only choice where I live). My primary physician referred me to mental health which did an intake evaluation. At the intake, I specifically asked for blood tests (especially hormones) and if there was an option to see anyone who specialized in mood disorders related to hormones. Or if I needed to go to a different kind of doctor altogether. All I got was a lot of blank stares.

    I was referred to a doctor who specializes in "women's issues" but who is never available. The receptionist checked the calendar months and months out and there wasn't a single time open. I've been seen twice by a resident. I don't have any problem with residents, I've often received better care from residents.

    As long as I'm venting, I will say that this resident never once asked me how to pronounce my name (she says it wrong and it's not a name with an obvious pronounciation) and also, she's gone in a few weeks so then on to the next resident. She told me that the new antidepressant will probably raise my blood pressure, so I should check on that. (Why can't she check it? Where I am supposed to go to get my blood pressure checked?) The new AD makes me sweat a lot and also my sweat smells bad. It's not a deal breaker but I'm not exactly enjoying my own company right now.

    Depokate is known for causing weight gain which can not be controlled by diet and exercise. The last thing I need in my 40s is weight gain. It also causes hair loss and in the long term, liver damage. Whee! Also gastic distress, nauseau etc etc.

    Over the years I've gotten to know people with bipolar in my various workplaces. I don't see myself in them. This doctor thought that my symptoms (irritability, impulsive thoughts) fell more into the bipolar diagnosis than into the depression diagnosis. I agree with her. But guess what, I also have obsessive compulsive traits, without actually having and needing treatment for OCD. "Impulsive" is probably the LAST word anyone would use to describe me. I do not suffer from mania. If my moods were extreme enough to jeopardize my ability to hold a job, I would consider bipolar meds. They're not.

    My previous plan of demanding a hysterectomy is looking better and better.

    Also, I give myself Extreme Kudos for not unleashing irritability on anyone at the clinic, which is in all respects a highly irritating, unorganized and dehumanizing environment.
    formerly Castella
    (my dogs aren't snarly, my hair is)
  • SuburbanbushbabeSuburbanbushbabe Posts: 15,402Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Depakote is an anti-psychotic. I was on a very small dose some years ago combined with Celexa and another med and that combo is what led me to stop antidepressants.

    You make a very valid point about hormone levels and blood tests. A hormonal specialist (either GYN or endocrinoligist) can do that. I go to a practice that specializes in women going through perimenopause and menopause. The prescribed bioidentical hormone cream has really made a difference .

    The other thing that has helped balance my emotions is accupuncture. And I take a low dosage of Xanax when I need to, for anxiety/panic.
    I'm frustrated. 20 years ago I was looking for help and had a similar experience. No one ran blood tests, no one checked hormones, no one asked about diet or exercise, they just kept throwing medications at me and increasing the dose until I was literally a zombie.
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  • SnarlsSnarls Posts: 2,537Registered Users
    That's helpful, SBB. I'll make an appointment with a gyn. I would need a referral for the other. I'm reconsidering low dose birth control as an option. I need help assessing the risk with respect to my family history of breast cancer and depression.

    I'm familiar with depoke and lamictal as anti-convulsants and lithiium as an anti pyschotic.
    formerly Castella
    (my dogs aren't snarly, my hair is)

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