Some women experience discomfort with the monthly onset of menstruation. These symptoms (referred to as premenstrual syndrome or PMS) can range from general moodiness to severe bloating and cramping. For some women, however, the symptoms of PMS can take on a much more severe form and actually be related to another condition, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It’s important to differentiate between these two conditions. PMDD can be quite disruptive if left untreated.
If you think your monthly symptoms are more intense than regular PMS, you may want to discuss the possibility of PMDD with your health care practitioner.
PMS is experienced by about 40% of women in their child bearing years. It can cause physical and/or emotional symptoms that appear 7 to 10 days before menstruation. In contrast, only 3% to 5% of menstruating women have PMDD.
Every woman affected by PMS will present a different combination of some of these symptoms. Their symptoms may also differ from month to month.
Unlike PMS, PMDD symptoms are very severe, completely disrupting the lives of the women affected by it. Women diagnosed with PMDD usually present 5 or more of the following symptoms:
These symptoms do not necessarily occur every month, but they are present in the majority of months. Some months may be worse than others.
For an accurate diagnosis of PMDD, it is important to keep a Mood Chart, also known as a Daily Record of Severity of Problems (click to download) for at least two consecutive months. Also, it is important to have a complete medical evaluation and laboratory tests in order to rule out other possible medical problems.
A few studies suggest that women with a personal or family history of postpartum depression, unipolar depression, and mood changes brought on by oral contraceptives may be at greater risk of developing PMDD.
There are 3 main approaches that can be used to alleviate the symptoms of PMDD.
For a list of places where you can get treatment and/or find a doctor, click here.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can learn more about your choices and figure out which treatments might be best for you. To learn more click here.