pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder

Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is not the same as Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) and affects 5-10% of people who menstruate worldwide

Anyone who has regular menstrual cycles will know that there is a certain point in the month where you start to feel a bit…off. This usually happens around ovulation – or two weeks after your period starts. 

You’re more sensitive to things in general, perhaps you’re not sleeping well, you’re easily irritated or may be more prone to headaches or skin congestion.

This is PMS and, although it can be tough, it’s nowhere near as severe as the experience of PMDD.

What is PMDD?

PMDD is an abnormal brain response to hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. It is a severe chronic condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s life – and those around them. Symptoms usually start to appear around a week before menstruation and ends within a few days of your period starting.

It is distinguished from other mood disorders by when symptoms start and how long they last.

Emotional symptoms can include:

Insomnia, depression, extreme anxiety, lack of control, mood swings, confusion or suicidal ideation.

Physical symptoms can include:

Changes in vision, joint swelling, backache, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, appetite changes, numbness and more.

How is PMDD diagnosed?

There are very few diagnostic tests for PMDD so the best thing to do is take detailed notes of what you are experiencing in the lead up to your period.

According to, over the course of a year, five or more of the following symptoms must be present in most menstrual cycles:

  • Depressed mood
  • Anger or irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Moodiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia or the need for more sleep
  • Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • Other physical symptoms, the most common being belly bloating, breast tenderness and headache

These symptoms can affect your health, wellbeing, work and family life and need to be addressed and treated as quickly as possible.

What should I do if I think I have PMDD?

  • Go to your GP or healthcare provider with a list of questions that you would like answered
  • Make sure you have detailed notes on how you are affected by your menstrual cycle
  • Take notes of any medication or treatment prescribed or suggested to you
  • Ask about side effects to any potential new medications

If you want to talk about PMS, PMDD or anything else, you can contact Childline 24 hours a day by calling 1800 66 66 66 or by hitting the Live Chat button on our website

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