Health Library

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Definition

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) occurs just prior to menstruation and is characterized by significant:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Tension

PMDD is much more severe and less common than PMS.

Causes

The exact cause is not known.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of PMDD include:

  • Having hormonal changes
  • Having a family history of PMDD
  • Experiencing a lot of stress or a traumatic life event
  • Having depression or another mental health condition

Microscopic View of Hormone Receptor
molecule and receptor
Menstruation causes many hormonal changes, which may play a role in PMDD.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Frequent crying
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Unusually strong cravings for certain foods
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Physical symptoms (eg, sore breasts, headaches, joint or muscle pain, swelling, bloating)

Symptoms typically begin 10-14 days prior to the start of menstruation.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will diagnose PMDD based on your symptoms. You may be asked to keep a record of when your symptoms occur and how severe they are.

Your doctor may also order:

  • Blood tests
  • Tests to check hormone levels

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle Changes

These steps can help manage symptoms of PMDD:

  • Exercise throughout the week.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
  • Learn stress management techniques.
  • Improve your sleep habits.

Medications

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs])
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Nutritional supplements

Prevention

To reduce your chance of PMDD, take these steps:

  • Get plenty of exercise and rest.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Manage stress.

Resources

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org/

Canadian Resources

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org/index%5Fe.asp

References

PMS and PMDD. Mass General Hospital Center for Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/pms-and-pmdd/. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Premenstrual syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed August 14, 2012.