Premenstrual dysphoric disorder—PMDD for short, is affecting more and more women all of the time. It is a condition that has severe emotional and physical problems associated closely to the menstrual cycle. The symptoms usually start in the second half of a woman’s cycle and continue on until her period starts, or shortly thereafter. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) affects up to 75% of menstruating women, with about 5% of menstruating women having PMDD.
The symptoms of PMS and PMDD are the same—bloating, depression, anxiety, tension, irritability, breast tenderness, etc, but the severity of the symptoms is what separates women with PMS from women with PMDD. The lives of the women with PMDD are usually disrupted in some way, whether that means they stay home from work or school, interferes in their relationships or hurts other areas in their lives.
Most women relate the same stories of sudden bursts of anger, anxiety, depression and not feeling like themselves. They also report the symptoms coming on as quickly as they go once their period starts. The cause is not known for certain. Hormones seem to play a part, although women with PMS and those with PMDD have been shown to have very similar hormone results, not really showing a greater difference in those with PMDD from those with PMS. Genetics may also have a role in this, as well as social, environmental, psychological and cultural factors.
There are different types of PMDD and one can be diagnosed with it, but in order to be diagnosed the symptoms must not be present during the week after menses. Some of the different types include symptoms beginning at ovulation and worsening as menses approaches and then ending after menses begins. Another type is when symptoms begin during the week before menses and then ends shortly after the period begins. Sometimes symptoms come on during ovulation and then go away for a few days, only to reappear as the period approaches. The last type is when symptoms begin at ovulation and worsen and last until menses ends.
In order to be tested for PMDD you must see your doctor. You will be able to get some help by using medications, good nutritional habits and psychobehavioral approaches including exercise and maybe therapy. Most doctors recommended a combination of all three, but some women may find that one or two of these may work for them in reducing their symptoms. You don’t have to go on suffering when there if help available.