What you need to know about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Most, if not all, people who menstruate have experienced the physical or emotional that symptoms that come before your period starts. The term ‘Premenstrual Syndrome’ or PMS for short is commonly used to refer to these symptoms. With time, having a few weird food cravings or an occasional bout of mood swings becomes the telltale sign of an upcoming period.
While most people may be able to manage these mild symptoms with a combination of rest and remedies, for others, the emotional symptoms occurring before your period can become a serious issue. This health problem can be considered an upscale from the more commonly experienced PMS and is called ‘Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder’ or PMDD for short.
What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
PMDD is a condition similar to PMS in that it also happens in the week or two before your period is about to start. But, it is different from PMS in that its symptoms are more severe and interfere with your daily life. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Depression or feelings of hopelessness
- Severe mood swings
- Intense anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tension and anxiety
- Fatigue and decreased interest in usual activities
- Physical symptoms like cramps, bloating or joint/muscle pain
PMDD affects about 5% of women of childbearing age. While there is no clear answer as to what causes PMDD, some researchers attribute the condition to the hormonal changes that occur in the body during the menstrual cycle.
The fluctuation of the hormone ‘Serotonin’ during one’s period can also be the cause. Other factors like a history of PMDD in the family, thyroid disorders, or obesity can also worsen the symptoms of PMDD.
If the emotional and physical symptoms you experience before your period are persistent, severe, and debilitating to the point where it interferes with your daily life, there might be a chance you have PMDD.
PMDD symptoms are also known to go away shortly after you start your period. If you suspect that any of your premenstrual symptoms are severe enough to change your usual course of life, you should definitely consider consulting your doctor. They can in turn help in diagnosing the problem and chart out a suitable plan of action.
How is PMDD treated?
PMDD can be managed with a combination of lifestyle changes as well as meditation and supplements. If you are experiencing PMDD because of the fluctuation of the hormone Serotonin, your doctor may prescribe you antidepressant medication which can help regulate the hormone better. Alternatively, you may even be prescribed birth control pills to help with hormonal imbalances that worsen the emotional symptoms of PMDD.
To manage the physical symptoms like cramps or bloating, you may have to take over-the-counter pain medication. Apart from medication, healthy changes in your life can help make PMDD symptoms more manageable. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet, practicing meditation and relaxation techniques as well as engaging in regular exercise are proven to be beneficial.
PMDD is a condition that can affect all aspects of your life in the one or two weeks during the month in which it flares up. The symptoms of PMDD are severe enough to disrupt your normal life. But, if diagnosed properly, it can be managed through a combination of medication and healthy changes.
PMDD is often dismissed as PMS and therefore can go untreated for a long time. Even if you don’t have PMDD, it is important to know what it is so you can recognise if someone else is going through it.