Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Many women experience physical and emotional changes several days before menstruation begins. This condition is known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms, which may include breast swelling or tenderness, headaches, fatigue, bloating, acne, anxiety, irritability, mood swings and depression, commonly subside a day or two after menstruation begins. When the symptoms of PMS are severe and disrupt daily activities, a diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PDD) may be made.

Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

In addition to the physical symptoms associated with PMS, individuals suffering from PDD may experience chronic and intensified emotional and behavioral symptoms that can disrupt daily life, and may include the following:

  • Extreme moodiness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Tension
  • Anxiety

PDD may also affect sleep habits and appetite. Symptoms may begin 7 to 10 days before a woman's period, and continue for the first few days after the start of menstruation.

Cause of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

The exact cause of PDD is not known; however, hormonal changes during menstruation may affect preexisting mood disorders such as anxiety or depression. PDD may worsen the symptoms of these underlying conditions, although not all women with PDD have an underlying mood disorder.

Diagnosis of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

PDD may be diagnosed after a physical examination to determine any underlying causes and a review of all symptoms. Patients may be asked to keep a log of all symptoms, and the amount of time that they last.

Treatment of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Treatment for PDD focuses on minimizing symptoms, and may initially include conservative treatments such as exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. When symptoms are severe and do not respond to these types of treatment, birth control pills may be recommended to regulate hormones, and antidepressant medication may be prescribed to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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