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Common Symptoms that Help Diagnosing PMDD

Woman suffering from PMDD

PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder is the diagnosis used to indicate a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a condition which affects the person’s relationships and their ability to work and conduct social activities.

PMDD can be described by serious mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability and anger. In order to determine if such are symptoms of PMDD, these should occur exclusively during the two weeks prior to menses.

Not only that, but according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), PMDD symptoms are always serious enough to interfere with the sufferer’s normal occupational and social functioning. The premenstrual dysphoric disorder is thus different than the common premenstrual syndrome and requires treatment.

PMDD is an extremely distressing and disabling condition that affects about 3 to 8% of women. Before placing a PMDD diagnose, the medical doctor must exclude the syndromes with manifestations similar to PMDD symptoms, these syndromes including menopause, perimenopause, anaemia and thyroid disorders. Persons showing PMDD signs should subject themselves to laboratory studies that assess the state of blood cells, the thyroid function, and the follicle-stimulating hormone level.

Known PMDD symptoms include a really depressed mood, anxiety and tension, unexpected mood swings, persistent irritability and anger, loss of interest in the person’s regular activities, difficulty concentrating and maintaining focus, loss of energy, appetite changes in the form of food cravings, disrupted sleep including insomnia or oversleeping and feeling out of control. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is also characterized by physical symptoms such as breast tenderness or swelling, muscle or joint pain, headaches, bloating and weight gain.

Out of the symptoms necessary to diagnose PMDD, at least 5 of them are required, including at least one of the first four symptoms of PMDD. To take into account a diagnosis of PMDD, the symptoms must be linked with the menstrual cycle, thus appear before the menses, improve or disappear once they begin or shortly after that, and should not appear in the week following the menses. The symptoms must also be severe and not mild in order to place the premenstrual dysphoric disorder diagnosis.

PMDD treatment can be a combination of the following three approaches, yet no studies have confirmed that this is the optimal treatment for this condition.

In order to eliminate or relieve the symptoms associated with PMDD, the sufferer can take medications such as antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, analgesics, prescribed hormones and diuretics; a woman can also use a psycho-behavioral approach that includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, coping skills, relaxation methods etc. as well as a nutritional approach in the form of a dietary modification that can include herbal PMDD remedies such as chasteberry, or nutritional supplements such as calcium, vitamin B-6 and L-tryptophan.

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