For thousands of women each day, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is an ongoing challenge that has negative outcomes on life. PMDD is a disorder in which a woman’s menstrual cycle influences her mental health significantly and during a narrow time frame before her period begins.

Criteria for PMDD diagnosis is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Mood swings, sudden sadness or sensitivity to rejection
  • Irritability or anger
  • Feelings of depression, hopelessness or low self-worth
  • Increased anxiety, tension or feeling on-edge

In addition to these symptoms, individuals must also experience one or more of these symptoms to meet criteria for diagnosis:

  • Decreased interest in typical activities
  • Challenges with concentration
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Appetite changes, overeating or specific food cravings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Physical symptoms like breast tenderness, bloating or joint pain

PMDD statistics indicate that 6 million, or 1 in 20 women worldwide, struggle with this condition. The actual prevalence is estimated to be even higher, but many women may not come forward regarding their concerns because of fear of stigmatization. The average age of onset for PMDD is 26, but the condition can emerge at any time during a woman’s reproductive years.

Causes of PMDD

The exact cause of PMDD is unknown. Multiple studies have found a correlation between trauma history and PMDD. One study showed that childhood trauma and PMDD were particularly closely related, with early childhood sexual abuse making someone 6.7 times more likely to develop PMDD. As in so many other conditions, scientists have also examined the correlation between PMDD and genetics. Research has shown that certain genetic variations predispose some women to PMDD.

Rates of PMDD and Co-Occurring Disorders

Given the severity of physical and emotional symptoms, it is not surprising that PMDD often co-occurs with other conditions. PMDD and depression are closely correlated. In fact, depressive symptoms and anxiety are part of the diagnostic criteria for PMDD. PMDD and alcohol abuse is an unfortunately common combination, as alcohol is a depressant and worsens the negative symptoms of the disorder. The use of substances to self-medicate for an emotional health condition such as PMDD is not uncommon. As women learn more about the condition, PMDD can be treated with greater effectiveness and minimal side effects.

PMDD and Suicide

Tragically, a staggering 30% of women with PMDD attempt suicide. That number consists of women who have made attempts on their life and does not include the number of women who struggle with suicidal ideation with PMDD. One study showed that women with PMDD are 70% more likely to experience suicidal ideation than women without a premenstrual condition. It is crucial for women struggling with this condition to reach out for support if they experience suicidal impulses.

PMDD Treatment & Recovery

Effective PMDD treatment consists of antidepressant medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. Additional strategies for managing PMDD symptoms include using oral contraceptives, making dietary adjustments (including a calcium supplement and smaller, more frequent meals) and partaking in aerobic exercise. While there is no PMDD cure, symptoms can be effectively managed to reduce their impact on daily life.

Ongoing Studies and Research

More PMDD research studies are being completed to learn about the genetic components of the condition and the link to trauma history. These research studies are crucial for the understanding of the disorder so that early intervention and effective treatments can save lives.

If you are struggling with PMDD and a co-occurring substance use disorder, The Recovery Village can help. Reach out today with any questions about treatment options to speak with a representative.

    

Psychiatry.org. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM 5).” 2013. Accessed April 27, 2019.

PMDD Awareness Month. “Shine a Light on PMDD” Accessed April 27, 2019.

Shelton, Jessica. “PMDD: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Symptoms, Causes, Treatment” Psycom.net. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Rosenfeld, Jordan. “What Does Your PMS Have To Do With Your Past?” Medium.com. Sept. 8, 2017. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Bertone-Johnson, ER et al. “Early life emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and the development of premenstrual syndrome: a longitudinal study.” Journal of Women’s Health. 2014. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Sciencedaily.com “First Significant Genetic Finding In Severe PMS, Or PMDD” October 5, 2007. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Vann, Madeline R.  “PMDD: Managing Monthly Depression.” Everydayhealth.com. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Greenfield, S F, et al. “Substance abuse in women.” NCBI. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America vol. 33. 2010. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Iampd.org  “About PMDD” Accessed April 27, 2019.

Pilver, C.E. et al. “Premenstrual dysphoric disorder as a correlate of suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts among a nationally representative sample.” NCBI.nlm.nih.gov as published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2012. Accessed April 27, 2019.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Statistics
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