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What do you know about PMDD?

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Caz_Alumni
Caz_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 621 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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Comments

  • janer1967
    janer1967 Community member Posts: 21,964 Disability Gamechanger
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    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 
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Posts: 12,499 Disability Gamechanger
    edited April 2021
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    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!'.

    National Campaigns Officer at Scope, she/her

  • Annasee
    Annasee Community member Posts: 1 Listener
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    Thank you for this informative article. It was interesting to learn what may influence your symptoms is the reduction of serotonin levels in your brain. This is believed to be the primary cause of the emotional challenges you may face during PMS.
  • Ollyoyster
    Ollyoyster Community member Posts: 348 Pioneering
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    My partner always knows when I'm due on as he says I turn into a different person 🤨🤨🤨🤨,, it has nearly split us up a few times but now he kind of knows and tbf is really good, he knows I can't help it,  I get the whole package, sore, bloat, angry, crave stodge,  and the weepys,, omg I actually couldn't live with me,. The article was really interesting, thank you for sharing 😁
  • L_Volunteer
    L_Volunteer Community Volunteer Adviser, Scope Member Posts: 7,981 Disability Gamechanger
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    @Annasee - I agree with you! I also found this a really informative article  :)
    Community Volunteer Adviser with professional knowledge of education, special educational needs and disabilities and EHCP's. Pronouns: She/her. 

    Please note: if I use the online community outside of its hours of administration, I am doing so in a personal capacity only.
  • L_Volunteer
    L_Volunteer Community Volunteer Adviser, Scope Member Posts: 7,981 Disability Gamechanger
    edited December 2022
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    That sounds really difficult for you @Ollyoyster. Thanks for having the courage to share this with us though.

    Do you find anything, in particular, helpful for getting through it? Hoping we can continue to make this thread really supportive.

    It sounds like having people around you who kind of know, are really good and know you can’t help it is really helpful for you :)

    Community Volunteer Adviser with professional knowledge of education, special educational needs and disabilities and EHCP's. Pronouns: She/her. 

    Please note: if I use the online community outside of its hours of administration, I am doing so in a personal capacity only.
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