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Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

PMDD; Severe PMS; Menstrual disorder - dysphoric

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition in which a woman has severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than those seen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

PMS refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that most often occur about 5 to 11 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle. In most cases, the symptoms stop when, or shortly after, her period begins.

Images

Depression and the menstrual cycle

Causes

The causes of PMS and PMDD have not been found.

Hormone changes that occur during a woman's menstrual cycle may play a role.

PMDD affects a small number of women during the years when they are having menstrual periods.

Many women with this condition have:

Other factors that may play a role include:

Symptoms

The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS. However, they are very often more severe and debilitating. They also include at least one mood-related symptom. Symptoms occur during the week just before menstrual bleeding. They most often get better within a few days after the period starts.

Here is a list of common PMDD symptoms:

Exams and Tests

No physical exam or lab tests can diagnose PMDD. A complete history, physical exam (including a pelvic exam), thyroid testing, and psychiatric evaluation should be done to rule out other conditions.

Keeping a calendar or diary of symptoms can help women identify the most troublesome symptoms and the times when they are likely to occur. This information may help your health care provider diagnose PMDD and determine the best treatment.

Treatment

A healthy lifestyle is the first step to managing PMDD.

Keep a diary or calendar to record:

Antidepressants may be helpful.

The first option is most often an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). You can take SSRIs in the second part of your cycle up until your period starts. You may also take it the whole month. Ask your provider.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be used either with or instead of antidepressants. During CBT, you have about 10 visits with a mental health professional over several weeks.

Other treatments that may help include:

Most studies have shown that nutritional supplements, such as vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium are not helpful in relieving symptoms.

Outlook (Prognosis)

After proper diagnosis and treatment, most women with PMDD find that their symptoms go away or drop to tolerable levels.

Possible Complications

PMDD symptoms may be severe enough to interfere with a woman's daily life. Women with depression may have worse symptoms during the second half of their cycle and may need changes in their medicine.

Some women with PMDD have suicidal thoughts. Suicide in women with depression is more likely to occur during the second half of their menstrual cycle.

PMDD may be associated with eating disorders and smoking.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 or the local emergency number, or a local crisis line right away if you are having thoughts of suicide.

Call your provider if:

Related Information

Premenstrual syndrome
Major depression
Seasonal affective disorder

References

Gambone JC. Menstrual cycle-influenced disorders. In: Hacker NF, Gambone JC, Hobel CJ, eds. Hacker & Moore's Essentials of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 36.

Mendiratta V, Lentz GM. Primary and secondary dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: etiology, diagnosis, management. In: Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 37.

Novac A. Depressive, bipolar, and related mood disorders. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2021. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:795-806.

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Review Date: 12/3/2020  

Reviewed By: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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