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February 25, 2024

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Understanding Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment 

 Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Photo by Goffkein on Adobe Stock

Menstruation is a natural, biological process in the female reproductive system. While some discomfort or mood changes are common before, during, and after menstruation, for some individuals, these symptoms can be severe and debilitating, leading to a condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and how does it affect individuals?

What Is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) represents a severe variant of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), manifesting through a spectrum of physical and emotional symptoms. Typically, these symptoms emerge in the one to two weeks preceding the onset of menstruation each cycle, often intensifying as the period approaches.

PMDD impacts approximately 5% of individuals who are women or assigned female at birth and are of reproductive age. Moreover, it is common for those with the disorder to concurrently experience anxiety or depressive disorders.

Experts are yet to understand the exact causes of PMDD fully. However, the decline in estrogen and progesterone levels following ovulation and before menstruation could initiate the onset of PMDD symptoms.

Additionally, serotonin, a neurotransmitter regulating mood, appetite, and sleep patterns, might contribute to the condition. Just as hormone levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, so do serotonin levels, which could be a contributing factor in the development of PMDD.

PMDD Symptoms

Common symptoms of PMDD include the following:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Irritability or anger
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety or tension
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or food cravings
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, breast tenderness, cramps, bloating, and joint and muscle pain

Diagnosing PMDD

Diagnosing PMDD involves a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional. This evaluation may include a review of symptoms and medical history and a symptom tracking chart to monitor symptoms over several menstrual cycles. It’s essential to rule out other underlying conditions that could be contributing to symptoms, such as depression or anxiety disorders.

Treatments for PMDD

Treatment for PMDD aims to alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life. Treatment options depend on the severity of symptoms and individual needs.

  • Antidepressants: SSRIs like fluoxetine and sertraline are effective in tempering emotional symptoms, fatigue, cravings, and sleep disturbances. Patients can take these medications continuously or only during the luteal phase, the time between ovulation and menstruation.
  • Hormonal Contraceptives: Birth control pills without a pill-free interval or with a reduced pill-free interval can help mitigate both PMS and PMDD symptoms.
  • Nutritional Supplements: A daily calcium intake of 1,200 milligrams may reduce PMDD and PMS symptoms. Additional supplements such as Vitamin B-6, magnesium, and L-tryptophan might offer relief.
  • Herbal Treatments: Some have studied chasteberry for its potential to help with symptoms like irritability, mood fluctuations, breast pain, bloating, cramps, and cravings. However, as herbal products are not FDA-regulated, it’s best to get professional medical guidance before taking them.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Engaging in regular exercise can help ease premenstrual symptoms. Reducing caffeine intake, abstaining from alcohol, quitting smoking, ensuring adequate sleep, and practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga might also be beneficial. Additionally, managing stress and avoiding emotionally charged situations when possible can further contribute to symptom relief.

Visit HEALOR for a Holistic Approach to Primary Care

If you or someone you know is struggling with PMDD symptoms, it’s crucial to seek support from a qualified healthcare provider. At HEALOR, we offer a holistic approach to primary care, addressing the physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors that contribute to PMDD.

Our team of experienced healthcare professionals provides personalized care and support to help you manage PMDD symptoms and improve your overall well-being. Don’t let PMDD control your life — take the first step toward relief and empowerment with HEALOR. Schedule a consultation today!

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