What do you know about PMDD? — Scope | Disability forum
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What do you know about PMDD?

Caz_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 624 Pioneering

This April is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) awareness month, an annual event held to raise awareness and dispel the stigma around PMDD and other related premenstrual disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual exacerbation of an existing condition (PME).

For more information and to get involved in this month’s activities, take a look at the International Association of Premenstrual Disorders’ dedicated PMDD Awareness Month webpage.

A woman looking out towards the sea with wind blowing and the sun setting

What is PMDD?

In 2019 the World Health Organization added PMDD to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11), defining it as:

‘a pattern of mood symptoms (depressed mood, irritability), somatic symptoms (lethargy, joint pain, overeating), or cognitive symptoms (concentration difficulties, forgetfulness) that begin several days before the onset of menses [sometimes referred to as a woman’s ‘period’], start to improve within a few days after the onset of menses, and then become minimal or absent within approximately 1 week following the onset of menses.’

This means that PMDD is now recognised as a medical condition, as well as being classed as a mental health disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Last of all, closer to home in the UK, the MIND website describes PMDD as:

‘a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can cause many emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before you start your period’.

At present, it’s estimated that 3-8% of women and individuals assigned female at birth have PMDD. But, because PMDD is so closely related to people’s experiences of a naturally occurring menstrual cycle, it can often be very difficult to diagnose.

Plus, nobody knows exactly what causes PMDD. Though scientists believe that the cause could be related to a person’s genetics or being very sensitive to changes in their own hormone levels.

However, currently there is no test for PMDD and the only way to confirm whether somebody has the condition is for them to track their symptoms over the of several cycles. This is because the timing of an individual’s symptoms is key to ruling out other conditions, confirming a diagnosis of PMDD, and deciding on the best treatment option for that particular person.

What are the symptoms of PMDD?

Many people who have periods can experience mild symptoms of PMS, but with PMDD the symptoms are much worse and can have a serious impact on your work, social life and family relationships.

Some of the symptoms to look out for with PMDD are:

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset or tearful
  • feeling angry or irritable
  • feelings of anxiety
  • feeling of hopeless
  • feelings of tension or being on edge
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • lack of energy
  • less interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • suicidal feelings

Some people can also experience physical symptoms including headaches, feeling bloated, and changes in appetite such as overeating or having specific food cravings.

The fact that symptoms can vary so much from person to person often makes it even more difficult to identify PMDD. According to a BBC report from 2020, this means that many people with PMDD struggle to get recognition for their symptoms and can wait years for a diagnosis and any form of treatment from their doctors.

What support is available for PMDD?

If you have been diagnosed with PMDD, or you feel that you experience some of the symptoms mentioned above, then our online community is a safe space to talk about PMDD. We urge anyone who feels that it might help them to reach out and share your experiences with us.

Plus, there are a number of social media support groups dedicated to the premenstrual disorders. You can find more information by going online and searching for a Facebook or Twitter PMDD support group to suit you and your own circumstances.

Lastly, the following websites contain a range of resources to help people with PMDD.

Over to you:

  • Do you or a loved on have PMDD? Or do you think you might have PMDD?
  • Had you heard of PMDD before today?
  • What about the stereotypes that we tend to associate with the premenstrual disorders?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below :)
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  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 12,234 Disability Gamechanger
    I suppose I was one of the lucky ones only had pre menstrual pain and tender breasts

    I went on injection form of contraception for many years and had no periods or any symptoms 

    Took long time for it to get out of my system to be able to conceive bug I was aware of that 

    Also lucky as I went through menopause at 43 and sailed through it apart from few months of mild low mood 
    Here to help with my experience in hunan resources and employment rights 
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Posts: 5,996

    Scope community team

    edited April 27
    Really informative piece, thanks @Caz_Scope! I can't say I knew much about PMDD before this. 

    There are definitely stereotypes around premenstrual disorders. It's also exremely frustrating that when you express an opinion and someone responds with 'oh, it must be that time of the month!'.
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