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Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions. Those with family histories of PMS or PMDD can be at a higher risk for developing PMDD, as well as those with personal or family histories of depression, postpartum depression, or other mood disorders. The exact cause of PMDD is not known. It may be an abnormal reaction to normal hormone changes that happen with each menstrual cycle.

What is PMDD?
PMDD is a severe form of PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. The symptoms are similar to PMS but more intense and are typically disruptive to your daily life. About 5.5% of people who menstruate are affected. The symptoms usually appear a week or two before your period and go away once your period starts.

Common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depressed mood, irritability, hopelessness
  • Self-critical thoughts
  • Frequent or sudden tearfulness
  • Decreased interest in normal activities
  • Conflict with family, coworkers, friends
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Bloating and breast tenderness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control

How is PMDD diagnosed?
Gathering your health history and getting a physical and pelvic exam are a good starting point. However, with limited diagnostic tests available, discussing your symptoms with your doctor can help. To diagnose PMDD certain criteria has to be met:

  • Over the course of a year, during most menstrual cycles, you must have 5 or more symptoms that have been present during the week before your period and stopping within a few days after your period starts.
  • Symptoms must be linked to significant distress, or they must disturb your ability to function in your daily routine.
  • Symptoms are not related to or made worse by another health condition.

There is hope! There are several ways to manage the symptoms including:

  • Regular exercise
  • Changes in diet! Try to decrease sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol. Try to increase protein and carbs.
  • Managing stress: relaxation, meditation, etc.
  • Vitamins: B-6, calcium, magnesium
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • SSRI’s (anti-depressants)
  • Birth control pills

If you feel like you could be affected by PMDD, next steps could include the following:

  • Make an appointment with your doctor, and write down questions you want answered.
  • During the visit, write down notes on any recommendations, medications, and tests provided by your doctor.
  • Understand why a new medicine may be prescribed and get education on potential side effects.

One of the biggest challenges with PMDD is a lack of accessible information. We can help break down the stigma by talking openly about our experiences and ensure those who need support are able to obtain it. Remember, you are not alone. A therapist can help you navigate the distressing symptoms of PMDD so you can live a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life. If you think you or a loved one is experiencing PMDD, contact our office at 201-661-8070.

Here are some resources that can help: