What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

PMDD Facts

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a hormonal mood disorder affecting 3–8% of menstruating women characterised by severe unpleasant psychological symptoms occurring during the luteal phase of menses. Symptoms also take on a physical nature significantly impacting the quality of life of many women and the lives of those they live with.
  • Occupational and social functioning is also affected to the extent where some women withdraw from these activities isolating themselves during bouts of PMDD.
  • Women who have the condition have described PMDD as, “PMS on steroids“ due to the incredibly heightened symptoms. However, there are symptoms that occur in PMDD that aren’t present in PMS and so severe they are debilitating. There is currently no known cure.

Treatment of PMDD relies largely on antidepressants that modulate serotonin levels in the brain via serotonin reuptake inhibitors as well as ovulation suppression using contraception.

Symptoms

  • Severe Depression with feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Intense Sudden Onset Suicidal thoughts
  • Tension, anxiety, and Extreme Irritability with bouts of uncontrollable anger or rage
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty concentrating – confusion – brain fog
  • Fatigue & Decreased energy
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Sudden mood changes & Uncontrollable Crying fits
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Food cravings and appetite changes
  • Longer periods of sleep due to heavy fatigue
  • Physical symptoms, swelling, breast tenderness, Soreness of joints, muscle pain, Hot flashes, Cramps and bloating
  • Severe Headaches & Migraines that can last for days
  • Increased interpersonal conflicts and paranoia
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed – Everything becomes too difficult on a physical and in an emotional level
  • Losing jobs and job opportunities – Inability to work due to poor health not being about to focus due to lack of concentration or lack of energy.
  • Absolute loss of control

Symptoms appear seven to 14 days before menstrual bleeding begins. Most women have a  28 day cycle but yay lucky for me i have a 21 day cycle woohoo. PMDD comes more frequenly yay.

Although sometimes dismissed as trivial, PMDD can disrupt a woman’s life and relationships so completely, she may despair that life itself is not worth living. About 15% of women with PMDD attempt suicide.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is so prevalent in women that research shows around 90 percent of women experience at least one symptom of PMS every month and around 50 percent of women identify with having several symptoms.

However, a significant number of menstruating women, between five to eight percent, experience much more severe symptoms during this time — a condition that is now recognised as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, also known as PMDD.

The psychological symptoms of the disorder can be so debilitating that PMDD was recognised as a depressive disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Mood Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.

Broadly speaking, if you have PMDD, you have an increased sensitivity to your reproductive hormones (progesterone) during the two weeks before your period starts. This sensitivity leads to alterations in the brain chemicals and neurologic pathways that control your mood and your general sense of well-being. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that women with PMDD have an altered gene complex that processes the body’s response to hormones and stressors.

46 thoughts on “What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

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