Premenstrual Dysphoria

What is Premenstrual Dysphoria?

Many women experience some physical, emotional and behavioral changes associated with phases of their menstrual cycles. In some women, these changes are severe, occur regularly, and include depressed feelings, irritability, and other emotional and physical changes. These changes are referred to as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). These changes typically begin after ovulation and become gradually worse until menstruation starts.

While many women report some history of premenstrual mood changes and physical symptoms, an estimated 3-4 % suffer severe symptoms that significantly interfere with work and social functioning. For these women, there appears to be an abnormal response to normal hormone changes. Researchers are studying what makes some women susceptible to PMDD, including differences in hormone sensitivity, history of other mood disorders, and individual differences in the brain. Women who are at risk for depression may be more vulnerable to the mood shifting effects of hormones.

What are the symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?

Symptoms of PMDD include depressed mood, anxiety or tension, irritability, decreased interest or pleasure in activities, difficulty concentrating, low energy, change in appetite, overeating, increase or decrease in sleep, feeling overwhelmed, bloating, headache, joint or muscle pain, and breast tenderness.

Women with PMDD are more likely to develop depressive disorders and postpartum disorders. If you are having these symptoms at other times of the month you should consider being evaluated for depression. Discuss this with your health care provider.

Adapted with permission from the University of Michigan Depression Center Web site.