Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Every month women go from being ordinary citizens to a bitch on wheels. This may seem like a sexist and unfair comment but before her period a woman experiences changes in her body or moods.

Premenstrual syndrome is a fairly common problem among women. However a more severe problem is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It affects roughly about 5 percent of women. Both PMS and PMDD share the same symptoms. The difference is that women with PMDD have difficulty functioning because of the severity of the symptoms.

A woman with PMDD feels out of control before her period. Her anger and moodiness increase exponentially that colleagues and family spend as much time out of her way. Researchers think PMDD is a mood disorder. It is not the fault of the woman or something she cooked up to irritate her friends and family. PMDD is caused by a chemical imbalance in her brain and can be treated medically.

How do I know if I have PMDD?

How do you know if you have PMDD or the ordinary run of the mill PMS? PMDD symptoms are pretty much the same as PMS. Marked depressed mood, marked anxiety, shifts in mood, persistent anger, loss of interest in usual activities, difficulty in focusing, change in appetite, feeling out of control, lack of energy, change in sleeping habits and physical discomfort like breast swelling or headaches and joint pain.

To be diagnosed with PMDD a woman has to have at least five of the above mentioned symptoms. These symptoms must significantly interfere with the woman’s work, school, daily activities or relationships.

What causes PMDD?

Scientists have still to figure out what causes premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Like other disorders it may mean an underlying weakness in the brain chemistry of the patient. The chances of having PMDD is increased significantly if your mother also suffers from the disorder although the specific gene has not been discovered yet.

How is PMDD treated?

Your doctor will ask you about how bad your symptoms are and will tell you about different treatments. For mild to moderate symptoms, your doctor may suggest changes in your diet and lifestyle. You might talk to a counselor about your PMDD symptoms and life stresses.

Before you start treatment for PMDD you have to be sure that you do not in fact have some other mood disorder. Keep a diary a few months and note your symptoms. If your depression doesn’t lift after your menstrual cycle you may have some other mood disorder.

There have been many breakthroughs in treating PMDD over the years. The American Food and Drug Association have approved of a number of medication for this disorder. There are also therapy and nutritional treatments that can alleviate most of the pain for women with PMDD.

Medication. The FDA approved medications are fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. These are antidepressants with strong effects on seratonin. If the main symptoms for your PMDD are depression, sudden mood shifts, anxiety, anger and fatigue.

You can take these antidepressants regularly if your symptoms are severe for those with less severe symptoms take the medication two weeks before your menstrual cycle. If anxiety is the main symptom of your PMDD, anti anxiety drugs should be your medication of choice.

Take note that note of these drugs are FDA approved. Analgesics or pain relievers will relieve the pain from PMDD but will do little to cure the disorder. Some of women have turned to hormone treatments to cure their symptoms. However more studies are needed before you can see doctors giving you estrogen for your PMDD.

Psycho behavioral. Psychotherapies are helpful for depression. Cognitive- behavioral therapies are helpful to develop coping strategies for PMDD symptoms. Some women find yoga, meditation or reflexology useful. For others daily exercise is helpful in alleviating PMS but it has to be seen if it help with PMDD.

Dietary modifications. Cutting back on caffeine and soda have always helped with PMS. Increase your intake of carbohydrates and protein. Avoid overeating and consider eating several small meals.

Nutritional supplements such as calcium carbonate, magnesium and optivite a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement, have long proven to be effective in alleviating PMS symptoms. Some women find that eating ice cream during their period helps with the pain. There have been no studies to show how effective these dietary supplements are to PMDD.


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