If you always feel different before you get your period, you should know you are not alone. Almost 40% of women in the Europe claim they have suffered from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) at some point in their lives, experiencing symptoms like tender breasts, fatigue, bloating, pimples, sadness, and more.
PMS is characterised by starting around the same time every month and going away when you start bleeding. This happens because of hormone fluctuations during your menstrual cycle. However, sometimes PMS symptoms can be too extreme and affect not only your daily life but also your relationships with others. This is when many specialists talk about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS.
If you are wondering “Do I have PMS or PMDD, then?”, the best way to find out is by consulting with your doctor. Meanwhile, read this article and discover what is PMDD, the causes behind it, and possible treatments for this condition.
PMDD is similar to PMS but with heightened symptoms, especially when it comes to emotional signs like irritability, depression, and anxiety. While these symptoms get better after you start bleeding, they can interfere with your daily life as long as they prevail (1). This is what distinguishes PMDD from other mood disorders: it has a cyclical nature, with symptoms appearing in specific periods of time and are absent during pregnancy, for example, when you don’t menstruate.
Spiralling thoughts, extreme frustration, outrage and anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts are feelings that characterise PMDD, and can last for just a couple of days to full weeks.
Unfortunately, researchers have not yet been able to discover the underlying causes of PMDD, although recent studies suggest that women with mood changes before menstruation do not have hormonal imbalances but rather seem to be particularly sensitive to hormonal changes (2), such as fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone. Some of the major risk factors for PMDD are a family or personal history of mood disorders, stress, or anxiety.
PMS and PMDD symptoms are quite similar, especially in terms of physical signs, though PMDD has worse psychological symptoms. Let’s compare these two conditions below.
Different from what happens with PMS (which affects around 40% of women worldwide), PMDD occurs in 3-8% of women in their reproductive years (3), affecting mostly women in their twenties and with symptoms worsening over time.
It’s difficult to answer because PMDD is hard to diagnose and there’s still not a definite answer. Some experts believe that treating anxiety and depression may help in preventing PMS from turning into PMDD. But if researchers are right and PMDD is related to the way your hormones work, there may not be a way to keep it from happening. Instead, treatment and certain natural solutions can bring relief and help you regain health and wellbeing. Remember to always consult with your doctor to get expert advice.
Some treatments available for PMDD include:
- Having a healthier lifestyle (exercising regularly, cutting back on salt and sugar, reducing your caffeine intake, etc).
- Stress-management techniques to reduce anxiety, such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises.
- Taking natural supplements that can make you feel better without dangerous side effects. Our New & Ultra Potent Hormone Harmony, for example, supports a healthy hormone balance in women of all ages, helping you manage annoying symptoms like sugar cravings, mood swings, stress, and irritability.
If you are wondering “Do I have PMS or PMDD?” you should know that it’s possible to have both because PMDD can be considered a worse version of PMS. The symptoms are fairly the same, what differs is the intensity of the emotional signs such as sadness, anxiety, anger, or depression.
To diagnose PMDD, your doctor will need to understand your symptoms in depth. For this, they may:
- Ask about your family and medical history.
- Request that you keep track of your symptoms for one or more months: which ones they are, their intensity, when they occur exactly, and more.
- Want to know about your habits and lifestyle: whether you smoke, drink, do exercise, meditate, take medications, etc.
- Carry out a physical exam, including blood tests, to make sure you’re not suffering from other medical conditions.
Some symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and PMDD may be similar, as they are characterised by cycling between different emotional states (acute anger, sadness, depression). Of course, your doctor will be able to distinguish between these two conditions and diagnose you appropriately to look for the best treatment for your needs.
Yes, your PMS symptoms may worsen as you approach perimenopause, because your hormones will be in constant fluctuations. Many studies (4) have shown that women who have suffered from PMS since they were in their 20s tend to have rockier transitions into menopause in terms of physical and emotional symptoms.