What Is PMDD: Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

What is PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder?

Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)- is characterized by more significant premenstrual mood disturbances that can have a harmful impact on a suffers life, relationships, and work. Also, according to UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders is a severe form of PMS, it affects approximately 5-10% of women in their reproductive years, Unfortunately out of those women, 15% either have attempted or committed suicide.

The battle to have recognized has been long and hard, but PMDD was finally recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5(Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- 5thEdition) on May 18, 2013.  Before the official changes to DSM-5, PMDD appeared in the appendix of the DSM-4 making it an undiagnosable condition.

In the editorial Severe PMS/PMDD-is it time for a new approach?, the authors note that it was “confusion with bipolar disorder ”(Panay and Fenton 331). The misdiagnosis or the lack of diagnosis, eventually led to many under-treated or over treated women, with some women hospitalized for psychosis as a result of improper care.

 Symptoms of PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder)


What are the symptoms?

We are all biologically different; symptoms can vary from woman to woman no one person will have the same exact symptoms.  The lack of appropriate medical research makes it hard to identify the exact symptoms and the precise nature of PMDD.

Below I have identified the most common symptoms of PMDD; they are the most spoken about in articles studying PMDD and books regarding PMDD.To receive an accurate diagnosis of PMDD, you must have five of the symptoms listed below with two of them being from mood symptoms during the luteal phase. Approximately 15-10 days before menses.

  • Tension
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Rage / Anger
  • Restlessness/ Nervousness
  • Tearfulness/ Extrem Sensitivity
  • Suicidal Ideations

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty Concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Internal Conflict
  • Relational Conflict
  • Loss of interest
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Negative self-talk
  • Low libido

Physical Symptoms:

  • Breast Tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Painful Cramps
  • Migraines
  • Back Pain
  • Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Acne
  • Digestinal Track Issues

Additional Symptoms:

  • Self-Harm or thoughts of harming others
  • Binge eating
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suicide Attempts or Thoughts

Please note: Listed are the most common symptoms out of a possible hundred different symptoms of PMDD that can manifest in an individual.

PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) Diagnosis

How to Diagnose PMDD?

To be diagnosed as having PMDD, a suffer mos present with five of the symptoms including, two of the symptoms being mood-related and it must disrupt the quality of life of the sufferer. The time frame in which Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) symptoms appear should be at the peak of the luteal phase,( 15- 10 days prior to the start of period) and must end at the start of menses. For some, it could stop three to five days after menses(period) depending on the biological chemistry of each (remember we are all built differently.)

The best and most efficient way to get diagnosed with PMDD is to keep track of your symptoms by keeping a journal or using a Monthly Period Tracker.  The tracker or journal should show symptoms over three months or more, including the severity of the symptoms. This step should not be ignored, tracking the symptoms is vital, physical, written evidence with dates, over a length of time, is difficult to dispute.  

Once all the relevant data has been collected by the sufferer, it should be brought to a medical provider, specifically an OB-Gyn and a psychiatrist that specializes in mood disorders. The data will provide proof with a noticeable pattern reflecting the onset of symptoms during the luteal phases and before menses. Even with all the proper documentation achieving a diagnosis could prove difficult. Currently, the lack of awareness within the medical community leaves many physicians without adequate knowledge of PMDD.

Being an advocate for your health is ultimately what will get you the care you need!

What Next?

If you feel that you may have PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder), please know you are not alone. Along with myself and many other sufferings, there is a community online and on Facebook that wants to help you. Don’t suffer alone any longer, let us be there for you or your loved one.

Contact me anytime if you have any questions or wish to speak to someone. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; I post motivational quotes and information regarding my PMDD struggles and my actions toward bringing awareness of PMDD.

Additional Resources

Check out this great sites for more information and resources on PMDD:

International Association of Premenstrual Disorders


Vicious Cycle

National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome | NAPS