PMDD symptoms and treatment

PMDD – the acronym for premenstrual dysphoric disorder – is a quite common disorder affecting women all over the world; approximately, two to ten per cent of women who are menstruating suffer from this disorder. Although it is not really considered as a ‘disease”, it is known for seriously disrupting the lives of women. As a result, these women may distance themselves from their peers, partners and family. Worse, their careers may stop advancing. As the name indicates, PMDD is similar to PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Some even classify the former as a type of PMS. However, even though both these conditions show similar signs, the symptoms associated with the former are much more severe.

Researchers could not yet find what causes PMDD. Neither could they find the reason for the apparent relationship between depression and PMDD. In recent times, a few researchers found a strong correlation between changes in hormone level that are brought about by menstrual cycle and PMDD. Also, when the concentration of serotonin – which is a brain chemical involved with the transmission of nerve signals – falls, the symptoms of PMDD aggravate. This is because the chemical helps brain cells regulate pain, sleep, attention and mood – the symptoms associated with PMDD. Thus a variation in the level of serotonin is thought to be responsible for PMDD.

There are a large number of symptoms caused by PMDD. The most common of these are:

  • Having frequent changes in mood
  • Becoming depressed easily
  • Getting angry often – at apparently trivial matters
  • Staying tense and anxious
  • Becoming irritated easily
  • Losing interest in most matters
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate on a subject for long
  • Feeling weak
  • Losing the desire to eat
  • Engaging in reckless activities
  • Find it difficult falling asleep or maintaining sleep.
  • Facing other symptoms, such as bloating.

A woman may visit a doctor if she observes one or more of these symptoms. The doctor will help to deal with the emotional as well as the physical symptoms. The doctor will also conduct medical exams to make sure whether these symptoms are due to PMDD. However, the chances of being diagnosed with PMDD are low if the affected woman does not face more than four of these symptoms.

Since the symptoms of PMDD are severe enough to make life difficult for women, immediate treatment is often necessary. Here are the most effective of such treatment:

  • Avoiding eating certain foods: Most women report aggravated symptoms if they consume increased amount of alcohol, sugar (especially, refined sugar), caffeine and salt. On the other hand, women should eat foods rich in magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and calcium to alleviate their symptoms.
  • Engaging in regular physical activity: Although women would be reluctant to exercise at times of PMDD, experiences of many women have shown that mild forms of exercise like swimming and walking can alleviate PMDD symptoms.
  • Taking medications: There are many antidepressants which are effective in controlling PMDD symptoms. However, women should take only the drugs that have achieved the approval of the Food and Drug Administration for specifically PMDD. Currently, there are 3 such drugs. Women can take these medicines every day or at fixed intervals when they are going through their premenstrual period (which usually makes up fourteen of the thirty days in a month. Doctors usually do not recommend daily usage of these antidepressants – mainly due to the side effects associated with these medicines.
  • Taking the help of counseling: Counseling techniques – such as yoga, reflexology, and meditation and relaxation therapy – teach women to cope with PMDD symptoms, especially pain. In many cases, counseling techniques have provided enormous relief to these women.
Last updated on Aug 1st, 2010 and filed under Women's Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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