PMDD Symptoms: Menstrual Disorder

July 15, 2010

A large number of women (20%-50%) who experience regular menstrual cycles suffer PMS (premenstrual syndrome) each month. But a small number of women (3%-5%) suffer from a more severe condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This disorder comes with a much longer list of symptoms than the more garden variety PMS.

PMDD predisposes women to a greater risk for getting the baby blues (postpartum depression) while those women who do well on antidepressant treatment may need to step up their doses in the days prior to their menstrual periods in order to avoid breakthrough symptoms of depression.

The symptoms of PMDD include:

*Depression

*Anger

*Crying spells with no apparent reason

*Verbal outbursts

*Tension

*Irritability

*Tantrums

Significant Deterioration: Severe PMDD Symptoms

While women with PMS may suffer some of the very same symptoms, those women with PMDD have such severe symptoms that the sufferers experience a significant deterioration in their quality of life. In addition to the above symptoms, some women with PMDD may experience these symptoms, too:

*Sleep disturbance

*Headaches

*Lethargy

*Muscle pain

*Short attention span

*Joint pain

*Weight gain

*Bloating

*Breast tenderness

The symptoms of PMDD may first arrive about a week before the menstrual period and resolve around three days after the bleeding starts. There is a significant change in the PMDD sufferer's ability to go about her usual activities during the time she is symptomatic in comparison to those days on which she has no symptoms.

The experts have no definitive theory about the causes of PMDD though several ideas have been posited. One school of thought is that PMDD is an abnormal response to normal changes in the reproductive hormonal balance that occur with each menstrual cycle. The hypothesis goes that as the levels of progesterone and estrogen change, the body can't produce enough serotonin. Serotonin causes a constriction of the blood vessels. More research remains to be done on this topic in order to confirm or disprove this theory as well as to understand how these events impact on a woman's body.

Recording PMDD Symptoms

For now, the most important aspect of dealing with PMDD is to obtain an accurate diagnosis. The condition tends to mimic other disorders, for instance depression, anxiety disorder, and even thyroid problems. But there aren't many diagnostic means at the physician's disposal for proving PMDD. The doctor will take your medical history and may have you evaluated by a psychiatrist to rule out the presence of mental health disorders. Your physician may also ask you to keep a record of your symptoms over a long period of time so he can pinpoint the times your symptoms occur, their severity, and their duration.

In order to confirm PMDD, your doctor will want to determine whether you have five of more of these symptoms over the course of a year, most months:

*Depression

*Mood swings

*Feeling out of control or overwhelmed

*Irritability or anger

*Disinterest in activities you used to enjoy

*Difficulty concentrating

*Increase in appetite

*Inability to sleep or sleeping too much

*Symptoms that disturb your ability to interact, work, or otherwise function

*Symptoms unrelated to or exacerbated by a coexisting medical condition

*Other noticeable, regular symptoms

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