Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a medical condition very similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but with graver symptoms. It also occurs in the 1-2 weeks before your period and can cause you to feel severe irritability, tension, and depression.
5% of women in their childbearing years are affected by PMDD. Scientists do not know the exact causes behind PMDD or PMS, however, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may play a role. Serotonin, a brain chemical, also fluctuates during the menstrual cycle, causing significant mood changes.
PMDD usually presents with the following signs and symptoms:
- Panic attacks
- Feelings of despair
- Lasting irritability or anger
- Feelings of anxiety
- Mood swings
- Difficulty focusing
- Low energy
- Binge eating
- Sleep problems
- Lack of interest in activities and relationships
- Physical symptoms similar to PMS
If your symptoms are disrupting your quality of life, it’s better to seek the advice of a physician. Your doctor will ask you about your health history and conduct a physical examination. You may also need to keep a journal of your symptoms to help your doctor diagnose PMDD. To be clinically diagnosed with PMDD, you must have 5 or more PMDD symptoms, including one mood-related symptom.
PMDD is treated by a combination of medications to alleviate both physical and mood-related symptoms. These can include:
- OTC pain killers for cramps, headaches, backaches, breast tenderness, and joint pain.
- Antidepressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to regulate serotonin levels and neutralize mood. Your doctor may prescribe you any of these three FDA-approved SSRIs: paroxetine HCl, fluoxetine, or sertraline.
- Birth control pills that contain drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol to regulate hormones.
Stress management techniques and a healthy lifestyle may also help alleviate some of PMDD symptoms.
Read the full article by the Office on Women’s Health here for more information on premenstrual dysphoric disorder.