What is PMDD?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It causes a range of emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before your period.

PMDD occurs during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle – the time between when you ovulate and when your period starts. The luteal phase lasts approximately two weeks for most people but can be longer or shorter. You may experience PMDD sympyoms every day or for a few days within the phase during this time.

Many of us may experience symptoms of PMS. But if you have PMDD, these symptoms are much worse and can seriously impact your life. Experiencing PMDD can make working, socialising, and having healthy relationships difficult. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts.

 An estimated 5 to 10% of women and AFAB individuals of reproductive age have PMDD. This number does not account for missed cases, misdiagnoses, or women whose ovulatory cycle is suppressed by hormonal contraceptives.

What are PMDD symptoms?

If you have PMDD, you might find that you experience some of the symptoms listed below:

  • Mood swings
  • Feeling upset, tearful or hopeless
  • Lack of energy
  • Less interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Feeling anxious, tense or on edge
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Breast tenderness or swelling
  • Pain in your muscles and joints
  • Headaches
  • Feeling bloated
  • Changes in your appetite, such as overeating or having specific food cravings
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased anger or conflict with people around you

 As PMDD is linked to your menstrual cycle, you will likely not experience symptoms if you are pregnant. You may find that the symptoms return once you begin ovulating again though.

The average wait for an accurate diagnosis of PMDD is 12 years. A shocking 30% of individuals with PMDD have attempted suicide, compared to approximately 10% of individuals with depression who attempt suicide.

PMDD is a serious condition that needs our attention, and it's time we connect the dots.

For more information, support or if you suspect you have PMDD:

If any of these symptoms sound familiar and you're concerned for your mental health, reach out to your doctor and start the conversation or check out the list of resources below for more information and support.

 Samaritans

116 123 (freephone)

jo@samaritans.org

Samaritans are open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk.

 Me v PMDD

A great symptom tracker for PMDD: https://mevpmdd.com/

 You and Your Hormones

For information on hormone-related conditions and treatments, take a look at https://www.yourhormones.info/

 International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD)

https://iapmd.org/

American organization that provides support and information for people affected by Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS)

0844 8157311

https://www.pms.org.uk/

Support and information for women with PMS. Includes treatment guidelines and information on getting the best from your doctor, which may be useful for people with other conditions including PMDD.

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