Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – Fact File

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a very serious form of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and can have a very large and negative impact on the life of the individual. Those who experience PMDD may find that their symptoms interfere with their work and home life and in severe cases, they may also experience suicidal thoughts.

The individual may experience a range of emotional and physical symptoms in the week or two leading up to the start of their period. Here is a list of some of the symptoms that they may experience:

Emotional:
Mood Swings
– Feeling upset and tearful
– Feeling angry and irritable
– Feelings of anxiety
– Feeling hopeless
– Tension and feeling ‘on edge’
– Finding it hard to concentrate
– Lack of energy
– Easily overwhelmed
– Less interest in activities that you once would have enjoyed
– Possible suicidal thoughts

Physical:
– Tender and/or swollen breasts
– Muscle and joint pains
– Headaches
– Feeling bloated
– Changes in your typical appetite, such as experiencing specific cravings or overeating
– Finding it difficult to sleep
– Finding it hard to solve or avoid conflicts with other people
– Becoming very upset if you feel as though others are rejecting you

Symptoms often occur for one to two weeks before the start of your period, you may find that you feel much better once your period has started and that the symptoms are gone once your period ends.

Causes:
Though there is no definitive cause it is believed that PMDD is much more likely to affect people whose bodies do not react well to hormone changes. When our bodies prepare for that time of the month our hormones change dramatically and this can affect some people in a negative way. 

It is also possible that genetics play a role in the development of PMDD. If others in your immediate family also experience PMDD then you may be at a higher risk of developing it for yourself.

Treatments:

When it comes to diagnosing PMDD you may be asked by your GP to keep a record of your symptoms for a couple of months. Make sure to record this in as much detail as you possibly can, even if you think that the details are small and pointless. They may do physical examinations and blood tests as well as asking you about your medical history. 

There are various treatments available for people with PMDD. From talking therapies to antidepressants, anti-inflammatory medication, oral contraceptives, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone injections (combined with hormone replacement therapy and limited to 6 months due to the possible side effects) In very serious cases, surgery may be an option (hysterectomy) 

It is important to have a good support network around you, try to talk about your symptoms, thoughts and feelings with someone who you can trust and feel comfortable around. You can also take them with you to doctors appointments and therapy sessions if you wish to do so. 

It is important for family and friends to try their best to gain a full understanding of the disorder in order for them to take it seriously and be able to offer their full support. 

You can read more about PMDD at the following resources:

WomensHealth
Mind Charity
MayoClinic
NHS

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