PMDD: The Most Misunderstood Disorder

PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, is a debilitating condition that is often misunderstood. For some women, it can be a cause of tremendous anxiety and depression. It can interfere with work, school, and personal relationships. And yet, despite its seriousness, PMDD is often dismissed as “just PMS.” If you suffer from PMDD or know someone who does, this blog post is for you. In it, we’ll explore what PMDD is, how it differs from PMS, and what can be done to treat it. We’ll also dispel some of the myths surrounding this condition.

What is PMDD?

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Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While PMS affects a large percentage of women, PMDD is much less common, affecting only 2-5% of menstruating women. PMDD is characterized by mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression that are so extreme that they interfere with work, school, and social life. For many women with PMDD, the week or two before their period is a living nightmare.

While the exact cause of PMDD is unknown, it is thought to be related to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Some researchers believe that women with PMDD are particularly sensitive to these changes. There is also some evidence that genetic factors may play a role in the development of PMDD.

Treatment for PMDD typically includes medication and lifestyle changes. Anti-depressants are often prescribed to help stabilize moods. Women with PMDD may also benefit from therapy and support groups. Making lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can also help reduce symptoms.

Causes of PMDD

There are many potential causes of PMDD, and the exact cause is still unknown. However, there are some theories about what may contribute to the development of this disorder.

One theory is that PMDD is caused by a hormonal imbalance. This theory is supported by the fact that symptoms of PMDD often improve with hormone therapy or other treatments that target hormones. Additionally, women who have a history of mood disorders in their family are more likely to develop PMDD, which suggests a genetic link.

Another theory suggests that PMDD is caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that regulate mood and emotions. This theory is supported by the fact that SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which are typically used to treat depression, can also be effective in treating PMDD.

It’s also possible that PMDD is caused by a combination of both hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances. Whatever the exact cause may be, it’s clear that there are several potential contributing factors to the development of this disorder.

Symptoms of PMDD

The symptoms of PMDD are often confused with the symptoms of PMS, but they are actually quite different. PMDD is a much more severe form of PMS that can interfere with a woman’s ability to function on a daily basis. The most common symptoms of PMDD include:

– Severe mood swings

– Depression

– Anxiety

– Irritability

– Anger

– Insomnia

– Fatigue

– Changes in appetite or weight

– Physical symptoms such as bloating or breast tenderness

Diagnosing PMDD

It’s estimated that 3-8% of women of childbearing age suffer from the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), yet it remains one of the most misunderstood and underdiagnosed disorders. PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that can interfere with work, school, and social activities. The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS, but they are much more severe.

While there is no specific test for PMDD, your doctor can diagnose it by doing a physical exam and talking to you about your symptoms. You will likely be asked to keep a diary of your symptoms for at least two menstrual cycles. This can help your doctor identify patterns in your symptoms.

Treatment for PMDD typically includes lifestyle changes and medication. Some women find relief with simple lifestyle changes such as exercise, stress reduction, and a healthy diet. Others may need medication to control their symptoms. SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed type of medication for PMDD. They are taken daily and typically start working within a few weeks.

Treatments for PMDD

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

There are many different treatments for PMDD, but finding the right one can be a challenge. Some women find relief with medication, while others find that therapy or lifestyle changes are more effective.

Medication is often the first line of treatment for PMDD. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly used to treat PMDD. SSRIs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help to stabilize mood. Other medications that have been used to treat PMDD include birth control pills, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications.

In addition to medication, therapy can be an effective treatment for PMDD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help women learn how to manage their symptoms and cope with the stressors of daily life. CBT can be done individually or in groups, and it has been shown to be effective in treating other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Lifestyle changes can also be helpful in managing PMDD symptoms. Getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can all help to reduce stress and improve mood. Reducing exposure to triggers like certain types of media or social situations can also be helpful for some women.


PMDD is a serious, yet often misunderstood, disorder that can have a profound effect on a woman’s life. If you think you may be suffering from PMDD, it’s important to seek professional help so that you can get the treatment you need. There are many resources available to help you better understand and manage your condition. With the right support, women with PMDD can lead happy and fulfilling lives.


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