Understanding PMDD and Period-Related Mood Changes
Posted byDiane Hoffmaster
When puberty begins, a girl’s monthly cycle is often preceded by an assortment of mood changes. Irritability, depression, and a general “weepy” feeling may follow many women in the days leading up to their period. What’s considered “normal” when it comes to typical period-related mood changes?
Here’s what you need to know about premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), including how to recognize how the symptoms differ from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and when you should consult your doctor.
What Is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of PMS. According to PubMed Health, symptoms begin in the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (after ovulation) and end shortly after menstruation begins.1 The difference between premenstrual dysphoric disorder and your average, everyday PMS is the severity of the emotional symptoms. If the symptoms you experience before your period are debilitating or interfere with your everyday life, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Symptoms of PMDD are very similar to the standard PMS symptoms except they are much more intense. Psychology Today notes both premenstrual dysphoric disorder and PMS may cause bloating, breast tenderness, and fatigue as well as changes in sleep patterns and appetite. In premenstrual dysphoric disorder, you may also notice the following symptoms:2
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Anxiety or tension
- Extreme mood swings
- Marked irritability or anger
In other words, while PMS might have you weeping at a sad commercial, premenstrual dysphoric disorder may leave you so depressed that you can’t get out of bed and make it through the day. The severity of the symptoms in the days before your period will help you decide whether you should seek treatment. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms that concern you.
Management Options for PMDD
The hormonal changes that occur before your period result in an assortment of physical symptoms. According to the Archives of Women’s Mental Health, doctors don’t understand why some women suffer from more extreme symptoms than others.3 The Mayo Clinic lists some treatment options your doctor may suggest:4
- Antidepressants. Certain antidepressants can lessen the severity of symptoms. Some can be taken all month while others are taken during the week before your period starts.
- Birth control pills. Taking birth control pills with no pill-free days (and thus no period) may be an option to reduce your premenstrual dysphoric disorder symptoms.
- Nutritional supplements. Certain dietary supplements like calcium, vitamin B and magnesium may help lessen PMDD symptoms. Talk to your doctor before adding any nutritional supplements to your diet.
- Herbal remedies. Herbal remedies may help alleviate everything from breast tenderness to moodiness, but more research is needed on the subject. Discuss herbal supplements with your doctor if you want to know which ones may work best.
- Diet and lifestyle changes. Exercise, relaxation techniques, avoiding alcohol and limiting caffeine may help reduce PMS and PMDD symptoms. Take extra good care of yourself in the week leading up to your period, and you may notice fewer pre-period symptoms.
When to See Your Doctor
PMS is fairly common in women of all ages, but if you find yourself unable to function on a day-to-day basis during the week before your period, make sure you seek help from your doctor. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be treated so that the effects don’t prevent you from getting out and enjoying life to the fullest every day of the month!
1PubMed Health, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, Accessed 12/20/2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024721/.
2Saedi, Goal Auzeen, Ph.D. “The Inclusion of PMDD in DSM-5.” Psychology Today. February 13, 2012. Accessed January 03, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/millennial-media/201202/the-inclusion-pmdd-in-dsm-5.
3“Towards a consensus on diagnostic criteria, measurement and trial design of the premenstrual disorders: the ISPMD Montreal consensus.” Archives of Women’s Mental Health 14, no. 1 (January 12, 2011): 13-21. Accessed January 3, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4134928/.
4The Mayo Clinic, Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), Accessed 12/20/2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/expert-answers/pmdd/faq-20058315.
- Posted by Diane Hoffmaster
- On February 27, 2017