What is PMDD?

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects some women during the menstrual cycle. It causes bad physical and emotional symptoms that make life hard to handle.

Who gets PMDD?

PMDD can affect women of reproductive age, typically starting in their late teens or early twenties. Although the exact prevalence is unknown, studies estimate that approximately 3-8% of menstruating women experience PMDD.

Symptoms of PMDD

PMDD symptoms show up about two weeks before a period and usually go away once the period starts. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Feeling super moody, swinging from happy to mad or upset
  • Getting irritable or angry over small things
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Being anxious or tense
  • Feeling super tired and having no energy
  • Wanting to eat a lot more or having different cravings
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Dealing with physical stuff like feeling bloated, sore boobs, or headaches

Causes of PMDD

Getting diagnosed with PMDD means understanding how your symptoms affect you. Here's how doctors figure it out:

  • Hormone changes: 

When estrogen and progesterone levels shift during the menstrual cycle, it can set off PMDD symptoms.

  • Brain chemistry: 

Problems with brain chemicals like serotonin can mess with mood and contribute to PMDD.

  • Family history: 

If mood disorders run in your family, you might be more likely to get PMDD.

  • Sensitivity to hormones: 

Some women are just more sensitive to hormonal changes, making them more prone to PMDD.

  • Lifestyle factors:

Stress, bad eating habits, not enough exercise, and poor sleep can make PMDD worse, even though they might not directly cause it.

Diagnosis of PMDD

Getting diagnosed with PMDD involves understanding your symptoms and how they affect you. Here are some ways healthcare providers diagnose PMDD:

  • Tracking symptoms:

 Writing down how you feel each day for a few cycles helps your doctor see if your symptoms match PMDD.

  • Physical check-up: 

Your doctor might do an exam to rule out other problems causing your symptoms.

  • Talk with a therapist: 

Chatting with a mental health pro can help assess your mood and emotions, which are key in PMDD.

  • DSM-5 criteria: 

Doctors use criteria from the DSM-5 book to diagnose PMDD, looking at specific symptoms and how bad they are.

  • Blood tests

While there's no one test for PMDD, blood tests can rule out other issues and check hormone levels.

Treatment Options for PMDD

Treatment for PMDD aims to make symptoms better and help you feel happier. Here are some options:

  • Lifestyle changes: 

Doing things like exercising regularly, eating healthy, finding ways to manage stress, and getting enough sleep can all help.

  • Medications:

Your doctor might prescribe antidepressants like SSRIs, birth control pills, or anti-anxiety meds to help with symptoms.

  • Therapy: 

Talking with a therapist who specializes in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can teach you ways to cope better with PMDD.

  • Alternative treatments: 

Some people find relief with things like herbal supplements, acupuncture, or light therapy.

  • Surgery: 

In really severe cases, like if nothing else works, surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy) might be an option, but it's rare.

PMDD can significantly affect a woman's life, but there are ways to deal with it. If you think you might have PMDD, it's important to talk to a doctor for the right diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right help, women can learn to manage PMDD and feel better overall.