Woman are notorious for being made fun of for having premenstrual syndrome. Yes, the infamous PMS. Whether a woman is on her period or not, she is accused of having PMS if she is just having a bad day. What happens though when the symptoms of PMS become much more severe? When they begin to interfere with your every day tasks and social events. This is due to the most severe form of PMS symptoms, known as premenstrual dystrophic disorder (PMDD).
PMDD is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that occur five to eleven days before a women’s period begins. The symptoms usually go away when menstruation begins or soon after. PMDD affects three to five percent of women within child bearing age. It is most common in who are in their late twenties to early forties who have atleast one child and a history of depression, anxiety, tension, affective lability or irritability and anger. The cause of PMDD is unknown, but it is believed to be related to hormonal changes that occur before menstruation.
There are more than one hundred and fifty signs and symptoms of PMDD. Women tend to experience different symptoms at different times. The most common symptoms include headache, swelling of ankles, feet and hands, backache, abdominal cramps, heaviness or pain, bloating and or gas, muscle spasms, confusion, difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness, poor judgement, depression, angry outbursts, sleep disturbance and breast tenderness. PMDD is a psychiatric term for major mood disturbance and has recently been listed as an official psychiatric diagnosis. Significant depression and hopelessness may occur and in extreme cases of PMDD suicide may become a risk.
There are no tests to diagnose PMDD. A diagnosis is usually made when it is established that the symptoms occur during the second half of the menstrual cycle (14 days or more after the first day of a women’s period), and are absent for about seven days after period ends, increases in severity as the cycle progresses, goes away when menstrual cycle begins and occurs for atleast three consecutive menstrual cycles.
It is important to keep a PMS diary if you suspect that you have PMDD. In your diary lists the dates of your period, which symptoms you have and the severity of those symptoms during the 10 days prior as well as following your period. Track your symptoms for atleast two cycles and then take it with you to consult with your doctor.
Serafem (fluoxetine) is the first prescription drug that has been approved by the food and drug administration to treat PMDD. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and asprin help with the bloating and pain. Beta blockers help with migraines while anti-anxiety medication such as buspirone help with the anxiety. There are also alternative treatments such as lifestyle changes, healthy diet, exercise, stress relief therapies and even aroma therapy. Certain vitamins and supplements are also helpful such as B6, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin E. Herbs that are helpful include vitex, black cohosh, valerian, kava kava and St. John’s Wort.
Premenstrual dystrophic disorder is a serious medical condition and should be treated promptly. It is necessary to contact your doctor as soon as possible if you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of PMDD. If you haven’t already, start your PMS diary now and begin your journey to a happy, healthier life.