All About Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a type of premenstrual syndrome that affects approximately 3-8% of women. It is characterized by severe emotional and physical symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression, which can begin before the onset of menstruation and continue for a few days or even up to two weeks. Although PMDD is often dismissed as “just PMS”, it is a distinct and serious medical condition that requires diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of PMDD
PMDD symptoms can vary widely between individuals, but women who have PMDD typically experience at least five of the following symptoms:
- Mood swings, such as feeling suddenly sad, angry, or anxious.
- Irritability or aggression, such as snapping at those around you or feeling easily frustrated.
- Depression, such as feeling hopeless, worthless, or deeply sad.
- Anxiety or tension, such as feeling restless, keyed up, or constantly worried.
- Sleep problems, such as insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, joint pain, or muscle aches.
- Lack of energy, such as feeling fatigued or lethargic.
- Changes in appetite, such as having food cravings or experiencing a loss of appetite.
- Difficulty concentrating, such as feeling confused or forgetful.
These symptoms usually occur in the week or two before menstruation and disappear once your period starts or shortly thereafter.
Causes of PMDD
The exact cause of PMDD is unknown, but many researchers believe that it’s related to hormonal fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Specifically, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels may be linked to PMDD symptoms. Studies have shown that women with PMDD often have an abnormal response to these hormones, which can trigger mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
Psychological and environmental factors may also contribute to PMDD symptoms. For example, stress, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits can exacerbate PMDD symptoms. Women who have a history of depression or anxiety may be more susceptible to PMDD as well.
PMDD is typically diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on the pattern and severity of your symptoms over several menstrual cycles. Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle factors, and may conduct a physical examination or order blood tests to rule out other health conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Treatment of PMDD
Although there is no cure for PMDD, there are several treatment options available. Treatment depends on the severity and type of symptoms you experience, as well as your overall health and preferences. Treatment options for PMDD include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits can help manage PMDD symptoms.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, may be helpful for women with PMDD.
- Medications, such as antidepressants or hormonal contraceptives, can help relieve PMDD symptoms. Antidepressants help regulate mood and rebalance brain chemistry, while hormonal contraceptives help stabilize hormone levels.
- Supplements, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, may also be helpful in reducing PMDD symptoms.
If you think you have PMDD, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Ignoring or downplaying PMDD can lead to worsening symptoms, and in severe cases, can severely impact your quality of life.
PMDD is a real and serious medical condition that affects many women around the world. It can cause significant emotional and physical distress, and affect your quality of life. Although the exact cause of PMDD is unknown, there are several treatment options available from lifestyle changes to psychological and medical interventions. If you think you have PMDD, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. With the right treatment and support, many women find relief from PMDD symptoms and can live their lives to the fullest.
FAQs About Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?
PMDD is a severe and debilitating form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects around 3-8% of menstruating women. It causes emotional and physical symptoms that occur during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (typically 7-14 days before a woman’s period). These symptoms can include mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, and fatigue. PMDD can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life and affect her ability to function at work, school, or in relationships.
What are the treatment options for PMDD?
There are several treatment options for PMDD, including lifestyle changes, over-the-counter pain relief medication, and prescription medication. Lifestyle changes may include regular exercise, a healthy diet and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake. Over-the-counter medication such as painkillers such as ibuprofen can help relieve physical symptoms. Anti-depressants or hormone therapy may be prescribed by a medical professional to help manage more severe symptoms.
How can women manage PMDD symptoms?
It is essential for women to track their menstrual cycle and symptoms to identify patterns and determine whether they may be experiencing PMDD. Women can manage PMDD symptoms by practicing good self-care, such as getting enough sleep, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, support from family, friends, and healthcare professionals can be helpful in managing the emotional and physical symptoms of PMDD. Talking about how you feel can also help improve your mental well-being by easing feelings of anxiety and depression.
1. Campbell, E. M., Peterkin, T. A., & O’Rourke, K. M. (2018). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: recognition and management. American family physician, 97(6), 385-393.
2. Yonkers, K. A., Simoni, M. K., Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Study Group. (2018). PMDD: a disorder of implied … not assumed … ovarian function. Archives of women’s mental health, 21(3), 321-327.
3. Rapkin, A. J., Winer, S. A., Winer, L. M., & Kephart, L. G. (2019). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: prevalence, impact and management challenges. International journal of women’s health, 11, 287-297.