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What is PMDD? What are the symptoms

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

PMDD symptoms

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) constitutes a severe manifestation of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that exerts a significant impact on the emotional and physical well-being of women. Around 5-7% of women have PMDD.

PMDD is characterised by pronounced mood disturbances and physical symptoms that emerge during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which encompasses the latter half following ovulation and preceding menstruation.



Lady on bed hugging her pillow with severe PMS
PMDD symptoms can be physical and psychological

Symptoms of PMDD are known to exhibit varying degrees of severity and may include the following:

  1. Mood-related Symptoms:

    • Intense irritability, heightened anger, or escalated interpersonal conflicts

    • Experiencing a depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts

    • Encountering episodes of anxiety, tension, and a sense of being overwhelmed

    • Undergoing mood swings along with increased sensitivity to feelings of rejection

  2. Physical Symptoms:

    • Fatigue or a notable lack of energy

    • Alterations in sleep patterns, involving either insomnia or excessive sleep

    • Changes in appetite or the emergence of specific food cravings

    • The occurrence of physical manifestations like breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle discomfort

Diagnosis of PMDD is made by prospective symptom tracking, for a minimum of 2-3 months after an initial consultation in accordance to either DSM or ICD-10 diagnostic criteria.


Hormone sensitivity in PMDD

The cause of PMDD is not comprehensively understood, although the main theory is that symptoms arise from the intricate interplay between hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle and individual susceptibility to these fluctuations. Hormonal shifts can influence neurotransmitter levels within the brain, subsequently culminating in the emotional and physical manifestations of PMDD.

A range of treatment pathways is available to address PMDD symptoms, as they can profoundly impact an individual's quality of life. These include:

  1. Implementing Lifestyle Modifications:

    • Regular engagement in physical exercise, which serves to alleviate mood symptoms and mitigate stress.

    • Adhering to a healthful dietary regimen replete with whole foods, contributing to the stabilization of blood sugar levels and reduction of mood oscillations.

    • Incorporating stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises to yield tangible benefits.

  2. Psychotherapeutic Interventions:

    • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is particularly effective, equipping individuals with coping strategies to manage mood-related symptoms.

  3. Exploring medication, in accordance to IAPMD guidelines we offer

    • Non-hormonal options

    • Hormonal therapies

    • Supplements

If you suspect you may have severe PMS or PMDD please book a consultation with our PMS specialist who will help you develop a treatment plan and liaise with your GP and extended healthcare team.



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