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Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Self-Care

What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)? How is it different from PMS?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) shares some similarities with PMS but is a more serious and less common medical condition. Individuals with PMDD may experience severe irritability, depression, and anxiety in the days leading up to one’s menstrual cycle, as hormone levels decrease. These symptoms then fade a couple weeks after the period starts. Up to 5% of women of childbearing age experience PMDD, and many people who suffer with it also experience anxiety or depression. This disorder may have several causes, including genetic predisposition, smoking, and stress.

What are the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder?

Aside from anxiety, depression, and irritability, the symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder may also be associated with a variety of different mental health symptoms including panic attacks, mood swings, tiredness, binge eating, and insomnia. Physical effects may include cramps, bloating, headaches, or muscle pain. Additionally, acne or itchy, inflamed skin may also be present. You must experience five or more symptoms (including one mood symptom) to be diagnosed with PMDD. Consult a medical professional if you believe you may be experiencing this disorder. 

Is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder considered a mental illness?

PMDD is listed as a mental health condition in the DSM-5 because of the associated mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. However, the additional physical symptoms and hormone-related components mean that it is also often considered a hormonal, or endocrine, disorder. Different people may experience the disorder very differently and it is up to you to define your experiences and symptoms. Seeking the health of a medical professional or multiple professionals, including a primary care physician and a psychiatrist or therapist, can help you manage your symptoms and live a healthy lifestyle regardless of which symptoms you may be experiencing.

How is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder managed or treated?

There are a variety of methods to manage and treat PMDDs. SSRIs, a serotonergic antidepressant, is often prescribed. Additionally, hormonal treatments may be prescribed, such as oral hormonal contraception, although this should be exercised with caution as it has the potential to exacerbate depressive symptoms. Otherwise, lifestyle changes including regular exercise, a changed sleep schedule, a protein and carbohydrate-rich diet, and taking vitamins or supplements can help to manage symptoms. Yoga, meditation, and other stress management practices may also be helpful in reducing the mental health related symptoms.

What actions can be taken to prevent PMDD?

Because the exact causes of PMDD are unknown, it is unclear how exactly the disorder can be prevented. However, the actions that should be taken to mitigate or treat the disease would be beneficial additions to any healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, a nutrient-rich diet, and keeping stress levels in check can all help. However, often hormonal fluctuations may occur due to extraneous factors such as genetics or other internal processes. However, no regimen is foolproof in preventing disease, and nobody is to blame for experiencing symptoms of PMDD, and the disorder can be managed and kept well under control whether through simple lifestyle changes or more targeted treatment via antidepressants.