Do You Feel & Act Like a Different Person Around Your Periods? Symptoms & Causes of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Do You Feel & Act Like a Different Person Around Your Periods? Symptoms & Causes of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

If you identify with more than one symptom on a regular basis, you should see your doctor.

Source: Getty Images | Photo by Cecilie_Arcurs

Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 6, 2020. It has since been updated.

That menstruation comes with a plethora of physical discomfort, unpredictable moods, and strange cravings is a known fact. Most of us suffer from these symptoms, although the intensity may vary. Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS is a cluster of changes in your physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral state that starts one or two weeks before periods and goes away as soon as they start. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD is similar, but the symptoms and impact the symptoms have on physical and mental health could be severe.


What is PMDD?

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According to the Child Mind Institute, PMDD is the extreme version of PMS. The symptoms of PMDD could interfere with your daily life and cause severe emotional and mental changes. It starts right before the onset of periods or the luteal phase when the uterus prepares for the possibility of pregnancy with a surge of hormones. As per the Office of Women's Health, PMDD occurs with severe irritability, depression, or anxiety. The symptoms go away two to three days after your period starts. It also notes that you may need medical help or medication to ease your symptoms.

What are the causes?

WebMD claims that researchers are not certain about the exact causes of PMDD, but it could possibly be an abnormal reaction of the body to the surge of hormones that occur around periods. It could be because of the decrease in the levels of serotonin, which is a brain chemical that controls mood, attention, sleep, and pain. Women who are more sensitive to these changes are more likely to have symptoms of PMDD.


What are its symptoms?

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The symptoms of PMDD start to show approximately a week before your periods start and go away as soon as they start or a few days after it starts. Symptoms of PMDD include:

- Lasting irritability or anger 

- Feelings of sadness or despair

- Feelings of tension or anxiety

- Panic attacks

- Mood swings or overwhelming emotions

- Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships

- Trouble focusing

- Tiredness or low energy

- Cravings or binge eating

- Trouble sleeping

- Physical symptoms such as cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

What exactly is the difference?

An estimated 75 percent of women and girls experience some emotional and physical discomfort around their periods, but the impact of PMS on their lives is usually relatively mild, claims Child Mind Institute. “We all can have mood swings before the start of our periods, but in the case of PMDD we’re talking about feeling like a different person,” says Dr. Stephanie Samar, a clinical psychologist who works with young women at the Child Mind Institute. For example, a woman with PMS might feel tired or restless, while a woman with PMDD might not be able to get out of bed or focus on the simplest tasks of the day. It is PMDD when it is seriously hindering the course of your life.


How is it diagnosed?

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If you identify with more than one symptom on a regular basis, you should see your doctor. Your doctor will go through your medical history and examine your mental and physical health. She can also help you understand if there are any underlying emotional or mental health issues like depression or anxiety. She might also want to rule out gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, and hormone imbalances before you are diagnosed with PPMD. The Office of Women's Health suggests that if you have 5 or more PMDD symptoms, your diagnosis would be positive. 

What is the treatment?

Experts recommend the following treatment for PMDD. However, it is wise to have a conversation with your doc, and evaluate your lifestyle and other health factors before you decide on one.


- Antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)

- Hormone therapy (birth control pills)

- Changes in diet

- Regular exercise

- Stress management

- Vitamin supplements

- Anti-inflammatory medicines

Additionally, it is imperative to be vigilant and aware of your own body and read its signs. When you are familiar with your body cycle and patterns, you will know when to consult a doctor and how to deal with the symptoms better. Your body is your only true home. Take care of it.





Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Cecilie_Arcurs

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.