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What Is PMDD?

written by: BStone • edited by: lrohner • updated: 10/10/2010

What is PMDD? Thisi condition is similar to PMS but also very different. Learn about the specific characteristics of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

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    A New Class of PMS

    pmdd To best understand PMDD, imagine a severe manifestation of PMS. Instead of mood swings and mild irritability, premenstrual dysphoric disorder is characterized by debilitating depression, anxiety and even anger. The medical term was not developed until recently, although there have been previous attempts to classify this more extreme form of PMS. Late Luteal Phase Dysphoric Disorder (LLPDD) was named in the 1980s.

    The set of physical and psychological symptoms that are PMDD is basically a new class of PMS. As a separate condition it deserves it's own treatment methods and even it's own public perception. PMDD is considered to be a serious disorder that deserves attention and treatment. It is not something that women who suffer from it have to simply accept.

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    Causes

    What causes PMDD, and for that matter, the symptoms of PMS? The exact causes of these conditions are unknown, although there are viable theories. While physical symptoms such as bloating, headaches and skin eruptions may be directly linked to hormone shifts during the menstrual cycle, psychological symptoms do not seem to be related to different levels of hormones. Research has shown similar levels of estrogen and progesterone in women who have PMDD and women who do not.

    What does appear to be a factor is a sensitivity to these hormones. It is possible that some women experience intense changes to brain chemicals during the normal hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for 'feeling good,' may be particularly affected. This then leads to the severe psychological symptoms that are experienced on a cyclical basis.

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    Symptoms

    Exactly what are the symptoms of this disorder? While the typical physical symptoms of PMS may be present, such as joint and back pain, headaches, and water retention, it is the psychological symptoms that are used to diagnose PMDD. The following may be present, although a woman does not have to experience each and every one to have the condition.

    • Depression
    • Severe mood swings, for example crying suddenly is not uncommon
    • Anxiety and edginess
    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Feeling out of control
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Trouble concentrating or focusing
    • Noticeable appetite changes
    • Fatigue
    • Irritability, anger, and even interpersonal conflicts
    • Lack of interest in usual activities
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    Treatment Options

    Once a woman is diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder what are her treatment options? It is possible to use natural remedies such as herbs, nutritional therapy, exercise, and stress reduction techniques. Over time this can be very effective. It is a way to treat PMDD without the negative side effects of medications.

    Prescription drugs are another option. They do come with side effects but they may be a simpler more straightforward solution that some women prefer. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, hormones, and diuretics may prescribed.

    Understanding what is PMDD can help women who may have this disorder find ways to treat it. It can also help those people who are closely related to a woman with the condition help her find a way to remedy PMDD.

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    References

    PMDD <http://pmdd.factsforhealth.org/treatment/>

    WebMD <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder>

    Women's Health <http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/premenstrual-syndrome.cfm#b>

    photo by Antigone (CC/flickr) <http://www.flickr.com/photos/antigone/462246906/sizes/m/in/photostream/>