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Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and Pre-menstrual syndrome

PMDD affects up to 5% of women of childbearing age.

Many women who suffer from PMDD have co-existing depression or anxiety.

PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) is a term that is often said and referenced but without an acknowledgment of how truly disruptive and distressing the clinical syndrome can be. Many women experience symptoms like bloating and menstrual cramps before their periods. Some also experience symptoms including irritability, anxiety, mood lability and depression that can be intrusive and debilitating. PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder) is a lesser-known term that describes the mental health consequences of the hormonal changes that occur in the 7-10 days prior to getting your period, or the onset menses. Once your period arrives, there is often a quick and abrupt resolution of these symptoms. This cycle is so regular, that women with PMDD may often come to dread the week of symptoms, and the anxiety then creeps backward into more and more of the month. 


While the exact mechanism behind this disorder is not understood, studies suggest that both women with and without PMDD have similar hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle, but women with PMDD are more susceptible and their bodies react more strongly to these changes. 

There are both psychiatric medication options as well as hormonal medication options for treatment. In addition, there may be recommendations for exercises or medications that can assist with the other symptoms of cramping, bloating that occur during that same time frame. The term "PMS" is often casually thrown around, and many women think their experience is an expected part of life and they must just white knuckle and tolerate it until that week passes each month. But I always tell my patients-- a week every month, or 25% of your life, is truly significant; and oftentimes, the worry and anticipation of symptom onset starts creeping into the other 75%. If your symptoms are intruding into your work and relationships, you deserve to have relief. PMDD is a true psychiatric diagnosis, and should not be written off as "just that time of month". You deserve to receive treatment if you are struggling with PMDD and I can help get you there.

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