If PMS is affecting your quality of life, you might have PMDD.

Most women have dealt with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms at some point in their lives. Symptoms may include mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. The Mayo Clinic states that as many as three out of four women have experienced some form of premenstrual syndrome. 

But what if your PMS symptoms seem worse than normal? What if your PMS is affecting your quality of life and even your relationships? 

You may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). 

What is PMDD? 

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a much more severe form of PMS that affects women of childbearing age. It’s a severe and chronic condition that can be treated. Lifestyle changes and sometimes medications can help manage symptoms. While PMS and PMDD share physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD will cause extreme mood shifts that can disrupt daily life and damage relationships. 

The precise cause of PMDD is unknown. It might be an abnormal reaction to normal hormonal changes that happen with each menstruation cycle. These hormone changes can cause a serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a naturally occurring substance found in the brain and intestines that affects mood. A serotonin deficiency will cause mood swings as well as some physiological changes like eating disorders, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

Symptoms of PMDD

PMDD and PMS both cause bloating, breast tenderness, interruptions in sleeping and eating habits and fatigue. However, with PMDD there will be at least one additional emotional and behavioral symptom. Extreme moodiness, sadness, hopelessness, anger and anxiety will be present with PMDD. 

If you’ve already been diagnosed with a mood disorder, it’s possible that hormonal changes can trigger a menstrual period to amplify those symptoms. Underlying depression and anxiety are common with PMDD.

Treatment of PMDD

PMDD is a serious condition that needs treatment. There are several different approaches to treating PMDD to help relieve or decrease the severity of symptoms. 

  • Diet and lifestyle changes. Regular exercise often reduces premenstrual symptoms. Avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and cutting back on caffeine may ease symptoms as well. Applying relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation or yoga may also help. 
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Medications such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem and others) and sertraline (Zoloft) might reduce emotional symptoms, fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems. 
  • Birth control pills. Taking birth control pills with no pill-free interval or a shortened interval may reduce symptoms.
  • Nutritional supplements. Taking 1200 milligrams of calcium daily may reduce symptoms of PMDD. Vitamin B6, magnesium and L-tryptophan may help as well. 
  • Herbal remedies. Some research has suggested that chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) may reduce the symptoms of PMDD, but more research is needed. The FDA doesn’t regulate herbal supplements, so talk with us if you have any questions or are considering using a supplement. 

For some women, the severity of symptoms will increase over time and last until menopause. PMDD may need to be treated for an extended period of time. Medication dosage might need to be adjusted throughout the course of treatment. 

Contact us today if you suspect you are suffering from PMDD. 


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