What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition associated with severe emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability that develops before the onset of menstruation. Although these symptoms are similar to those of PMS, they are debilitating enough to affect interpersonal relationships as well as everyday activities. Symptoms will develop during the last week of the menstrual cycles and generally improve a few days after your period begins. It is estimated that at least 3 to 5% of menstruating women develop PMDD particularly those with a family history of mood disorders.
Symptoms and signs
At least five or more of the following symptoms and signs must occur for premenstrual dysphoric disorder to be present and these include:
Physical symptoms such as breast tenderness bloating, headaches, cramping as well as muscle and joint pain may also be present.
What Causes Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
The exact cause of premenstrual dysphoric disorder has as yet not been established. Some researchers suggest that it may occur as a result of a lack of serotonin. Hormonal fluctuations of the levels of sex hormone such as progesterone, estrogen and testosterone during the menstrual cycle may also contribute to PMDD.
Diagnosing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Discussing your symptoms with your health practitioner may help to determine the diagnosis of PMDD. You will most likely be asked to keep a diary or calendar to monitor your symptoms and their duration. To rule out other conditions your medical history will be reviewed, a physical examination along with a pelvic exam and psychiatric evaluation performed.
Help for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
The symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder may be alleviated by making certain adjustments to lifestyle. Eat a well balanced diet containing vegetables, fruit and whole grain and reduce your intake of salt, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Make sure that you exercise at least three to five times per week and get enough sleep and rest as possible.
Keep a diary to monitor your symptoms – type of symptoms, severity and how often they occur. Various pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen are available to relieve menstrual cramps, breast soreness backaches or headaches. Use nutritional supplements such as magnesium and calcium as part of your daily regimen to reduce the severity of symptoms. If you suffer from water retention as a result of excessive weight gain, diuretics may also be prescribed. Women who experience severe bouts of depression may be prescribed antidepressants to treat PMDD.
Natural remedies have proven to be highly effective in treating both the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies help to restore hormonal balance without the risk of side effects of conventional medications.
Carefully selected herbs such as Foeniculum vulgare (Sweet Fennel), Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque Flower) and Melissa officinale (Lemon Balm) promote a stable mood, hormonal balance, and feelings of wellbeing during the premenstrual period.
More Information on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Tips to cope with PMDD
There are certain preventative measures that can help relieve the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric syndrome. These tips include:
- Incorporate more fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and calcium into your daily diet
- Reduce your intake of salt and sugar in your diet
- Drink plenty of water – at least 6-8 glasses per day
- Avoid excessive use of stimulants such as caffeinated beverages, alcohol and tobacco
- Exercise regularly by walking, jogging, swimming or going to gym
- Take vitamin supplements which include magnesium, zinc, calcium, evening primrose oil and selenium
- Use a hot water or castor oil pack on your lower abdomen or back to relieve pain and lessen cramps
- Practice relaxation therapy with deep breathing exercises, through meditation, yoga or listening to soothing music
- Ensure that you get adequate amounts of sleep at that you follow healthy sleep routines
- Record your menstrual symptoms by keeping a journal
- Pamper yourself during your menstrual cycle by having an aromatherapy massage or relaxing bubble bath