What do you know about PMDD?
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
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.
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:
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:
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.
- National Association of Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) – Based in the UK.
- International Association of Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) – International organisation but mainly US/UK-focused.
- NHS website
- MIND website
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?
Want to give us feedback? Complete our feedback form now.
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