PMDD: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

PMDD: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

It’s that time of the month. The time where many women suffer an array of symptoms during their menstrual cycle. As popularly known, numerous individuals may deal with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) where they experience changes in mood and pain when accompanied by the coming of their period. A disorder often mistaken with PMS and less known is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) (Theilen).

Although PMS and PMDD both share physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD differs in causing an extreme mood shift that becomes debilitating. In PMDD, at least one of these emotional and behavioral symptoms stands out: sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, extreme moodiness, and marked irritability or anger (Thielen). Between 5 to 8% of women suffer from symptoms so severe that it interferes with their daily activities and relationships (Vann). Psychologist Stephanie Collins Reed, Ph.D. assistant professor of clinical neurobiology at Columbia University states “Symptoms of PMDD can be comparable in severity to those with major depressive disorder” (Vann). Often, depression has been proven to play a role in PMDD. Dr. Girdler, of UNC medical school, found that those who struggle with PMDD and depression, have different biological components from those who have PMDD alone. Women with PMDD who had prior depression were found to have lower cortisol levels, as well as greater sensitivity to pain compared to those with PMDD and no prior depression (Girdler).

There is no clear cause of PMDD. However, underlying depression is a common symptom. It is possible that hormonal changes that trigger a menstrual period worsen the symptoms of mood disorders (Thielen). Treatments for PMDD include preventing and minimizing symptoms. A recent study of 174 women with PMS, including some with PMDD, showed that symptoms improved within four months of treatment with the SSRI Zoloft. Other treatments include aerobic exercise, dietary changes, oral contraceptives, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (Vann). Although, PMS shares similar symptoms with PMDD, it is important to know that biologically and emotionally they are quite different.


Girdler, Susan (2010).  Depression affects how women with PMDD respond to stress, pain. Retrieved by

Thielen, Jacqueline (2015). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Different from PMS? Retrieved by

Vann, Madeline. PMDD: Managing Monthly Depression. Retrieved by

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