Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder also referred to as PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that affects 3 to 8% of menstruating women and may be triggered by environmental stress and hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.

The symptoms of PMDD are like those of PMS but may be so severe that they interfere with relationships, work, or social activities.  Research has shown a link between PMDD and low levels of serotonin.  PMDD was added to the list of depressive disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V in 2013.

Substance abuse, being overweight, thyroid disorders, lack of physical activity, and a mother who has also had PMDD can all be possible causes of PMDD.  Correct diagnosis of the condition requires thyroid testing, psychiatric evaluation, and a physical exam.

What are the Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

Usually begin five to eleven days before a woman starts her monthly period and may include fatigue or low energy, mood swings, irritability, problems concentrating, panic attacks, appetite changes, little interest in day to day activities and relationships, difficulty sleeping, bloating, breast tenderness, feeling overwhelmed, and joint or muscle pain.

How is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Treated?

Many doctors recommend lowering the intake of sugar, caffeine, salt, and alcohol and taking supplements such as calcium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and magnesium. Regular swimming or walking appears to improve the premenstrual symptoms. Healthy foods containing whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are also recommended. Antidepressants such as Paxil CR, Zoloft, and Sarafem have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of PMDD. Birth control pills can help reduce symptoms of PMS, diuretics can help women who’ve gained weight due to fluid retention, and aspirin or ibuprofen may alleviate headaches, backaches, breast tenderness, and menstrual cramps.

Last Reviewed:
October 09, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2017
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