Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) - Experience

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What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can be considered a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Both PMS and PMDD are characterized by unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms that occur in the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, most commonly in the days preceding the menstrual period. Physical symptoms such as bloatiung, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint pain; food cravings, mood swings or frequent crying, panic attacks, fatigue, mood changes, irritability, and trouble focusing are among the most common symptoms, yet other symptomslike anxiety and trouble sleeping have been reported. PMS symptoms may be troubling and unpleasant. PMDD may cause severe, debilitating symptoms that interfere with a woman's ability to function.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that at least 85 ercent of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle. PMS is much more common than PMDD. You must have 5 or more of the symptoms listed above to be diagnosed with PMDD.

Biologic, psychological, environmental, and social factors all seem to play a part in PMDD. It is important to note that PMDD is not the fault of the woman suffering from it or the result of a "weak" or unstable personality. It is also not something that is "all in the woman' head." Rather, PMDD is a medical illness that impacts only 3% to 8% of women. Fortunately, it can be treated by a health care professional with behavioral and pharmaceutical options.

PMDD has been previously medically referred to as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder.

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Comment from: CiCi, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 23

I have dealt with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) for 15 years. I went to countless doctors, internists, obstetrician/gynecologists (too many to count), gastroenterologists, endocrinologists. That is when I learned what practicing medicine meant. They really didn't know what it was. Trial and error. Let's try this medicine and then we will try this. I lived it and still have trouble explaining it and people look at you like 'Oh you had PMS?' No! I lost so many jobs, I cannot tell you. You can get away with saying you have a stomach bug the first time even though they don't understand it lasting a week. But, when you have it again the next month they usually say this isn't working out. Very debilitating nausea, pain, fatigue like I had never had and have never experienced since, and sharp shooting pain. I have never had a baby but, I cannot imagine it being any worse pain. It felt like a knife being shoved up my bottom. I lost my home due to foreclosure. After I went through menopause I had something close to those feelings, but not totally debilitating a couple of times. Then none since, thank goodness. To know most likely you would be experiencing the same thing a month later, not only the symptoms but disrupting your life and your job. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. So, so hard to deal with. I would start on a medication and maybe not get sick for 2 months, sometimes 3, then boom, it is back. Three to eight percent of women get this! I wish more people knew about it because so many people think you are a hypochondriac or nuts. This is actually a recognized disorder in the AMA (American Medical Association) as a disability. You can get SSDI (social security disability insurance) for this now.

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Comment from: Holly, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 29

I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It's awful. I can get so angry that I can't catch my breath. I want to die, everything feels so hopeless. I lay around and cry and eat. I have self-harmed in the past and am being treated for that but during PMDD I sometimes lose the battle and the blade wins. The feelings of deep depression and hopelessness is just about unbearable. I am currently on 40 mg of Prozac and my doctor said to start taking birth control along with that. So after this period I will start the birth control. I hope that will help because this last spell just about did me in.

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