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What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?


Imagine watching TV and noticing the same adorable puppy commercial that you saw a few days ago, only this time you become overwhelmed with emotions and can’t help but to cry. There’s a chance you’re experiencing PMS or premenstrual syndrome. There are both physical and emotional changes that take place during a woman’s menstrual cycle. PMS is extremely common and it’s estimated that 3 out of every 4 menstruating women have experienced PMS in some capacity. However, what happens when PMS symptoms start to become a bit more severe and a woman’s emotional stability is completely thrown off? That’s when PMS can be labeled as PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a “severe and sometimes disabling extension of PMS.”


The symptoms for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) are directly linked to the fluctuations of reproduction hormones. PMDD is associated with an overall sensitivity to reproductive hormones. When studying PMDD, doctors and researchers began to wonder if genetics played a role in how some women are affected by it and some are not. According to Healthline, in 2017 it was discovered by researchers at the National Institutes of Health that people with PMDD have genetic changes that make their cells overreact to estrogen and progesterone.


You may be wondering, what are the symptoms of PMDD? And because it can be so severe, how can it be treated?


PMDD causes severe irritability or sensitivity in a week or two before a woman’s period. Symptoms of PMDD can include: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, increased trouble navigating personal relationships and even suicidal ideation. Some women may already struggle with depression and anxiety, so experiencing PMDD magnifies their mental and emotional state during their menstrual cycle which can truly disrupt the flow of their everyday life.

Prescription drugs or lifestyle changes can help with PMDD. Lifestyle changes include preventative methods (physical exercise), self-care methods (stress management) and therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy). There are two types of medications that help with PMDD: those that affect ovulation and those that impact the central nervous system. Birth control pills, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) and anxiolytic are all forms of medication that have been deemed necessary for helping those that need to take the extra step to help with PMDD.


Premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects up to 5% of women of childbearing age. Typically, it tends to resolve on its own once hitting menopause and menstruation stops. It goes without saying that a woman’s body goes through a lot while menstruating, the physical pain can be unbearable and oftentimes, so can the emotional pain.


It’s important for women to know their bodies! A change in severity of PMS symptoms could be an indication of PMDD, know the signs and symptoms so that you’ll never feel like you have to go without help.


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