PMDD is a severe form of a common problem called premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. About 75% of women of childbearing age have some PMS problems. About 2% to 10% of women in this age group have PMDD.
The symptoms of PMDD are:
These symptoms can affect your relationships and work ability. If you have some of these symptoms 10 to 14 days before your period and they improve when your period starts, you might have PMDD.
To help diagnose PMDD, your family doctor may ask you to chart your symptoms (see sample chart below).
Track your PMDD symptoms using this symptom chart.
Daily Symptom Report
Severity scoring for each symptom:
0 = No symptom
1= Minimal or slightly apparent to you
2 = Moderate, awareness of symptom but does not affect your daily routine
3 = A lot, continuously bothered by the symptom and/or symptoms interferes with your daily routine
4 = Severe, symptom is overwhelming and/or unable to carry out your daily routine
Day 1 is first day of menses
Adapted with permission from Freeman EW, DeRubeis RJ, Rickels K. Reliability and validity of a daily diary for premenstrual syndrome. Psychiatry Res 1996;65:97-106.
The exact cause of PMDD is not known. Changes in hormones related to your period may cause PMDD. Stressful life events and a family history of PMS or PMDD may increase your chances of getting PMDD. Major depression is common in women who have PMDD. However, not all women who have PMDD have major depression.
Your doctor will check your symptoms and the way they relate to your menstrual cycle. You might fill out a symptom chart for several weeks. There is no test that can diagnose PMDD.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms are and will discuss different treatments with you. For mild to moderate symptoms, your doctor may suggest changes in your diet and lifestyle. You might talk to a counselor about your PMDD symptoms and life stresses. Medicines may help with severe symptoms.
Certain medicines used to treat depression also treat PMDD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help by increasing the effect of a brain chemical called serotonin.
No. These medicines work for both conditions.
Some of these medicines you take for 10 to 14 days before each period.
Your doctor knows about other treatments. After talking with you, your doctor might have you try something else.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder by Subhash C. Bhatia, M.D., and Shashi K. Bhatia, M.D. (American Family Physician October 01, 2002, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20021001/1239.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff