Most women have a variety of physical or emotional symptoms related to their monthly usuaperiods. Symptoms are usually present during the five days before their period and then disappear within a day or two of the period starting. Most of the time, these symptoms aren’t an indication of a mental disorder or other mental health concern. Such mild symptoms are a normal process of menstruation.
Severe cases of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can be diagnosed as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD significantly interfere’s with a woman’s ability to function in her everyday, normal life — including with family, at work, or do other activities she normally enjoys.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Symptoms of PMDD are similar to those for PMS, except that a woman usually experiences more of them, and they are more severe. In order to be diagnosed with PMDD, a woman must experience at least 4 or more of the following symptoms:
Significantly decreased interest in usual activities
Great difficulty concentrating
Change in appetite
Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
Sleep problems, including sleeping too much, restless sleep, or inability to sleep
Physical problems, such as bloating, headaches, joint or muscle pain
Women who have a family or personal history of depression or postpartum depression are at higher risk for developing PMDD. PMDD affects somewhere between five and ten percent of menstruating women.
Keeping a calendar of when symptoms and menstruation occur will help a woman and her doctor decide if she has PMDD.
Why Do Some Women Get Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
The cause of PMDD is unknown at this time. Research suggests that the cause of PMDD may be related to hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Additional research suggests some similarity to that of certain mood disorders with the brain’s ability to properly regulate key neurochemicals, such as serotonin. However, no definitive research has been conducted that has shown a single cause for premsenstrual dysphoric disorder.
A woman may be more likely to suffer from PMDD if she has had a major depressive disorder or has bipolar disorder, or if someone in her family has suffered from one of these conditions. It’s possible that a woman with major depression and PMDD may find her symptoms ease somewhat during her period, but they won’t go away.
Diagnosis of PMDD
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder may be diagnosed by a physician or mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. A diagnosis is made based upon the symptoms listed above, their severity, and their level of interference with a woman’s life.