PMDD (premenstrual dysmorphic disorder) is basically premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in its severest form. Most women in their reproductive years experience some PMS symptoms, but only 10 % of these women get such problematic PMS that it's classed as PMDD. PMDD is characteristically associated with deep depression and sometimes even violent mood swings. It's the only form of PMS for which prescription drugs are a recommended form of treatment.

When Is PMS actually PMDD?

Both PMS and PMDD occur during the week or two running up to the beginning of your monthly period. If your PMS symptoms have gotten so bad that it's not possible for you to function normally at work or at home, or if your PMS is damaging your relationship with your spouse, colleagues or friends, then you may be suffering from PMDD. If this is the case, you need to see a doctor.

PMDD Symptom Guide

It can be difficult to differentiate between bad PMS and PMDD, but here are some basic guidelines.

Whereas as PMS sufferers may feel sad and anxious, PMDD sufferers have persistent depression that simply will not shift. You may experience sudden and extreme changes of mood, even violent urges. PMDD can make you feel totally overwhelmed and that your life is out of your control. You may also have no interest in social activities or engaging with other human beings.

The physical symptoms of PMS are well known: breast tenderness, headaches, backache, abdominal pain, etc. In a case of PMDD, these problems can reach the level of flu-like symptoms - severe muscle and joint pain, and headaches. You may also notice significant changes in your eating habits and major disruption in your sleeping patterns.

PMDD Causes

The cause of PMDD is unknown, just as the exact cause of PMS is unknown. Hormone and brain chemical fluctuations are, however, thought to be involved. Added to that are the individual emotional and physical factors at work in each PMDD sufferer. There is an apparent link between the numbers of women suffering from major depression who also suffer from PMDD, but women who have no previous depression history also develop PMDD symptoms.

Prescription PMDD Drugs

With the exception of the contraceptive pill (which stops ovulation and corrects hormone imbalance), prescription drugs are generally offered only to PMDD patients, not to PMS patients. Such drugs include anti-depressants and sex hormone suppressing drugs which bring about an artificial state of menopause in the patient.

Anti-depressants - anti-depressant medication from the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) group are recommended for PMDD. These drugs, when taken daily, can alleviate depression, tiredness and appetite changes in women with PMDD. They also have side effects which may cancel out their positive impact, such as: loss of libido (already a PMDD symptom), nausea and insomnia.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues are an absolute last resort in PMDD treatment. These menopause-inducing drugs will be used only when all other possible treatments have failed. These medications are administered by injection, and prevent the body's natural production of the estrogen and progesterone sex hormones. Patients will experience menopause-like symptoms, but these will go away when the medication is stopped and menstruation returns.

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