Every woman knows what it’s like to approach “that time of the month” from cravings to mood swings, when your body is preparing to throw its recurring tantrum it can truly do a number on you. In general, PMS can bring on the blues as our bodies release an insane amount of hormones that causes things to go a bit haywire. It is no secret that women have PMS symptoms that run the gamut and no two women are the same; however, could you be suffering from something a little more intense? If you’ve found yourself having extreme emotional and physical changes when your period approaches, it may be time to think about talking to your doctor about premenstrual dysphoria disorder or PMDD. 

PMDD is a much more severe form of PMS and needs to be handled carefully as it can be life-threatening for those already struggling with anxiety, depression and other emotional or psychological issues. Many women who feel completely shut down by their PMS symptoms are unknowingly living with PMDD. So, how do you know if you may be suffering from PMDD? 

Keep in mind, one of the keys to correctly identify symptoms of PMDD is to consider whether any number of the following things happen during most menstrual cycles throughout the course of the year. Here are some signs. 

Long lasting symptoms

One of the key components of PMDD is when symptoms start and how long they last. If you notice that you are having long lasting physical, emotional or mental changes either before or after your period, this could be a sign of PMDD. Normal PMS symptoms may arrive 5-7 days before your cycle with PMDD they can arrive sooner and last well into your menstrual cycle. 

Ability to function at work, at home and in relationships suffers. 

PMDD symptoms can be so severe that a person is completely unable to function normally. They may not be able to be social or lack the energy to interact with their loved ones. This is not to be confused with the general feeling of ‘blah’ that can accompany normal PMS; this is a way more intense inability to live your normal life. For those who suffer from depression, during the time before your period, you may feel your normal struggles deepen if you are dealing with PMDD. 

Fluid Retention

Bloating is a much despised and unwelcome visitor when that time of the month is near but when you begin to notice swelling in other parts of the body, that could be a sign of something more at work. Swelling of the ankles, hands and feet can be signs of PMDD along with weight gain, diminished urine output and painful breast fullness. Again, because the symptoms can so close mirror those of normal PMS, it’s important to take inventory of how often and for how long you experience any of these before worrying about the presence of PMDD. 

Eye Issues

Yes, PMDD can affect your eyes. If you notice changes in your vision or develop an eye infection at the onset of your period, you are probably suffering from a more severe premenstrual disorder. Though it is not the most common symptom, it is one of the signs that can be most dangerous and have lasting affects. 

Insomnia or Increased Need for Sleep

A normal amount of fatigue is pretty common for most women during PMS but if you find your sleeping patterns have severely changed leading up to your period, you could be suffering from PMDD. Having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep is also a common sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder that can result in other issues as sleep is so imperative to our overall health. If you are waking up tired and unable function properly throughout the day for want of rest, specifically before your period, consider whether this has been a normal occurrence and talk to your doctor about treating you for PMDD. 

Along with the things listed above, if you experience five or more of these regularly, throughout the course of a year, before your period, you may be living with PMDD. Though it is not something that can truly be tested, taking note of your symptoms can help you put together a plan to help soothe yourself when things are at their worst. 

  • Depressed mood
  • Anger or irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Moodiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia or feeling very sleepy
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control

And if it is determined that you do have PMDD, here are some things that have been known to help. 

  • Changes in diet to increase protein and carbohydrates and decrease sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Regular exercise
  • Stress management
  • Vitamin supplements (such as vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium)
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)
  • Birth control pills
pmddrelationshipsmenstrual healthstylereproductive health