A Note About PMDD
A Note About PMDD
Everyone experiences some unhappiness in his or her lifetime whether it is a specific situation or not. It becomes more serious when the cause is a form of "depression." It is a fact that women experience depression about twice as much as men (1). These causes specifically for women can be complex and so are the solutions (3). A common syndrome affecting an estimated 3% to 8% of women in their reproductive years is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) (4). PMDD is specifically known as a mood disorder of severe depression, irritability, and tension with symptoms worsening a week or so before a woman's menstrual period and usually settling out afterwards (5). PMDD can be devastating to all areas of a woman's everyday life, including family relationships, friendships, and the ability to work or go to school (3).
Many people still believe that the emotional symptoms caused by PMDD are not real, and that a woman should be able to shake off the symptoms if only she tried hard enough. Because of these inaccurate beliefs, women with this depression either may not recognize that they have a treatable disorder or may be discouraged from seeking or staying on treatment. Often, women's concerns regarding their condition are not taken seriously which leads to feelings of self-doubt, frustration and hopelessness (6).
Feeling sad or stressed during a menstrual period doesn't necessarily mean a woman is suffering from PMDD. This is a common assumption made by women who are confused about their emotional state. As a female suffering from PMS monthly, I can admit that PMDD has become questionable in my mind. There have been many times that I have suffered anything from constant tiredness, muscle aches, sad feelings or moodiness, decreased interests in usual activities, difficulty in concentration, feeling overwhelmed, behavioral changes, fatigue, fluid retention, breast tenderness, and headaches all leading up to my menstrual period. These happen to be some symptoms of PMDD. Does this mean that I have PMDD? . As a result PMDD is not always accurately identified or treated (4).
Diagnosis and treatment choices will depend on the outcome of an evaluation. To diagnose PMDD and rule out any other problems there should be a complete physical and mental examination that entails a complete history of current and previous symptoms, which can also raise questions about illnesses of other family members and about mood, memory and changes in relationships (7). The treatment for PMDD is similar to that for major depression, which consists of antidepressants and psychotherapy. A woman suffering from PMDD has to take antidepressants not just during the time her symptoms occur, but on a regular basis. Psychotherapy helps a woman cope with the harsh symptoms and other challenges in her life (6). In severe cases hormones that induce premature menopause may be administered since symptoms for PMDD sufferers disappear with menopause (4).
It is unfortunate that nearly two-thirds of PMDD sufferers do not get the treatment that they need (2). Some believe that it is just mother nature working and that every woman will experience symptoms similar to PMDD in her lifetime, so why label it a disorder. "Having a period is no different than having a bad hair day! So get over it. This whole disorder thing is nothing but a medical term for the monthly curse (8)." This is a case where premenstrual symptoms (PMS) have been confused with symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD symptoms go far beyond what are considered manageable or normal premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Women with PMDD complain of overwhelming depressive mood swings to such a severity that quality of life becomes seriously difficult, while PMS is related more to the physical aspects of a period such as bloating, weight gain, aches and pains (3).
Another problem for many women is "fear". Women who suffer from PMDD fear that they are "crazy," because PMDD is labeled as a psychiatric disorder. It is only when they are about to commit suicide or experience feelings of anger that turn into violent outbursts that they finally decide to seek safe and effective treatments (6). Understanding optimal treatment of this disorder can help alleviate unnecessary suffering so women can continue to live prosperous and fulfilling lives without the burden of PMDD's awful symptoms.
If you feel you may be suffering from PMDD, take the Quick Self-test for PMDD that is sited at the bottom of this page link and consult a physician (6).
WWW Sources1) Did you know?ŠŠDepression
01/06/2006, from a Reader on the Web
I want to start out by saying that the research in any illness suffered by mosthly women (pms, pmdd, interstitial cystitis, etc.) have far less research thrown at it than any illness/syndrome suffered by men, most specifically ED. I am apalled at this. I was diagnosed a year ago with Iterstitial Cystitis, and resently had an episode so severe, I was looking back at my DSM (my degree is in psychology). It turned out that the Dr. diagnosed me with PMDD. I am an educated person, specifically in the areas of psychology and cognitive neurology, and I am always very aware of my psychological state. I was in such a bad state, I knew I was in crisis. I wanted to say thank you for your information, but to also say, that if a man suffered from what I suffered from the last few days (I felt like my brain was on fast forward, and had absolutely no control of my thoughts, spiking an anxiety response and severe irritability), or the pain I feel on a regular basis with the Interstitial Cystitis, that we would KNOW what caused both of these syndromes/illnesses. I understand that ED is tramatizing, however, I think there are many illnesses/syndromes which deserve relief as well, and I think the more we address the fact that women's issues are not researched as much (as many men say "it is in your head") the more attention will be drawn to them and solutions found.