Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS and affects between two and ten percent of menstruating women. Women who think they have PMDD should consult with their doctors because it is a treatable disorder.
The Causes of PMDD
Unfortunately, professionals aren’t exactly sure what causes PMS or PMDD. It is thought that PMDD is caused simply by the hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle, but recent studies show a link between PMDD and low levels of serotonin.
The brain cells affected by serotonin are responsible for mood, sleep, pain, and attention, so low levels of serotonin lead to PMDD symptoms.
The Symptoms of PMDD
Symptoms of PMDD include depression, mood swings, anxiety, significant levels of anger and irritability, fatigue, and a loss of interest in daily activities.
Women also notice a change in their appetite, feeling like they have no control over their behavior and difficulty sleeping. Physical symptoms include tender breasts, bloating, headaches, and joint pain.
Diagnosing this disorder requires a process of elimination since these symptoms are related to other issues. Doctors will first rule out other emotional disorders like depression or anxiety.
Gynecological disorders like endometriosis, fibroids, and menopause may also create these symptoms.
Once these are ruled out, PMDD is diagnosed when there are at least five of the previously mentioned symptoms that occur the seven days before a woman’s period starts and then go away a few days after it starts.
Women experiencing these symptoms every day most likely have something else causing their problems.
Besides good nutrition and exercise, medication is the most common treatment. Antidepressants have proven to be effective in minimizing or completely eliminating the symptoms of PMDD.
Some women take them continuously, but if the dose is low enough, patients may be able to take them during their 14-day premenstrual period.
Hormones are also used to treat PMDD. Stopping ovulation is typically a good option, so PMDD sufferers will see relief using birth control pills.
Some doctors may prescribe progesterone or estrogen, but there isn’t enough research to say whether this is effective or not.
Women who think they may have PMDD should keep track of when their symptoms start and end and make a list of what they are. Having this information will help an experienced provider make a diagnosis and get treatment started as quickly as possible. Contact South Lake OBGYN today.