What is PMDD?

Due to my PCOS, I had an irregular period for years. In June of 2012, I became regular for the first time and I began to experience new symptoms that seemed way too extreme to be PMS. They seemed to coincide with my period and so I began doing research. After doing a lot of reading, I decided I must have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder - and I was finally diagnosed in May 2013. I am not a medical expert and much of this is from my own reading, so I don't claim it to be 100% accurate or authentic medical knowledge or advice. The information below is true to my own experience and education. If you feel you may have PMDD, please go see a doctor and know that you are not alone! And please do not feel overwhelmed by this information. It is meant to be inclusive and thorough. Not all women struggle with all facets of PMDD, and there is help and information out there. Any self-diagnosis done by my information is done at the reader's risk, and I truly encourage you to seek medical help if you feel you need it.

What is PMDD?

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a condition in which a woman experiences severe depression symptoms, irritability and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are much more extreme than PMS, and although PMDD is often referred to as "a more severe version of PMS," they are, in fact, not the same thing. PMDD is still a new condition and research is still being done. About 3-8% of women experience PMDD and many women with PMDD experience severe depression, anxiety, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The symptoms are as follows. You must have at least 5 of the symptoms to be diagnosed with PMDD, and one of the symptoms must be mood-related. The symptoms usually occur 5-14 days before your period and then settle down within a few days of getting your period.

-No interest in daily activities and relationships
-Fatigue or low energy
-Feelings of sadness or hopelessness and possible suicidal thoughts
-Feelings of tension or anxiety
-Feeling out of control
-Food cravings or binge eating
-Mood swings with periods of crying
-Panic attacks
-Irritability or anger that affects other people
-Physical symptoms: bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, joint and muscle pain
-Problems sleeping
-Difficulty concentrating

What truly sets PMDD and PMS apart is the degree to which they interfere with a woman's ability to enjoy life and meet her responsibilities, the medications approved by the FDA to treat PMDD, and the prominence of mental and emotional symptoms in PMDD. Women with PMDD will find the condition to be debilitating and it disrupts their life severely.

Please know that there is help out there and you are not alone. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing symptoms that are in line with PMDD and seek answers and help.

Below are links to some of the websites I have used for research, for my personal information and for this page. Please take a look and do some reading, especially if you think you might have PMDD.

PMDD Basic Facts -- the basics where most of the information on this page came from

Dr. Oz on PMDD -- an article by Dr. Oz that differentiates PMDD and PMS

PMDD Blog -- a beautiful blog by a woman with PMDD who offers a lot of practical advice and research

PMDD Help -- more in-depth information on PMDD and advice on treatment

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