PMDD: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

Depressed Woman
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Do you experience extreme symptoms leading up to your period? We’re not talking about just bloating, cravings, and cramps; we’re talking about severe shifts in your mood, emotions, and entire body. You may be suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) –and it’s nothing to joke about or take lightly.

PMDD is a major hormonal shift during your menstrual cycle and it can severely affect your emotional stability and well-being. Symptoms include fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, sleep issues, decreased focus, suicide ideation, marked anger, and physical symptoms like migraines, bloating, and cramping. Worst of all, it often goes undiagnosed, and many women mistake this severe monthly hormonal surge with depression, mental illness or just regular PMS. PMDD can be so serious that up to 15% of sufferers attempt suicide. It’s no joking matter. While depression and mental illness can contribute to the problem, PMDD is a separate issue and should be treated accordingly.

Many women who suffer from PMDD feel normal until their ovulation cycle begins and everything seems to go haywire. This is a hallmark sign of PMDD. If you notice you feel great until your cycle begins –then suddenly you’re unmotivated and an emotional mess literally over night for no apparent reason, PMDD and your hormones could be to blame. But don’t suffer in silence and continue living with horrendous periods every month. If you suspect you have PMDD, make an appointment with your physician ASAP. Your doctor will be able to determine what’s going on with your body and prescribe the appropriate treatment. PMDD is often successfully treated with birth control; specifically YAZ has been shown to help relieve PMDD. Your doctor may also recommend taking a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (such as Lexapro) in the days leading up to your period to help fend off PMDD. Other natural ways to help relieve PMDD are exercising, a healthy diet, getting sleep, and avoiding caffeine.

It’s also important to recognize the patterns of your body before you self-diagnose yourself as a depressive. If you know what is causing your body to go haywire leading up to your period, you’ll be able to manage the symptoms much better. Half the battle is knowing what’s going on with your body. Once you’re aware that what you’re dealing with is a temporary hormonal imbalance due to your monthly menstrual cycle, you can stop and remind yourself, “This is a passing issue. I will get through it and tomorrow I will feel better.”

***We are not medical professionals and this is not meant to be medical advice. If you suspect you may have PMDD, make an appointment with you physician immediately.


Cunningham J, et al. “Update on Research and Treatment of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder,” Harvard Review of Psychiatry (April 1, 2009): Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 120–37.

Halbreich U, et al. “Clinical Diagnostic Criteria for Premenstrual Syndrome and Guidelines for Their Quantification for Research Studies,” Gynecological Endocrinology (March 2007): Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 123–30.

Yonkers KA, et al. “Premenstrual Syndrome,” Lancet (April 5, 2008): Vol. 371, No. 9619, pp. 1200–10.

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