It’s difficult enough understanding our menstrual cycle, let alone the difference between PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). PMS and your period go hand in hand. In terms of PMS, some women are lucky and don’t get it at all. However, 3 out of 4 women experience PMS symptoms. This equates to 75 percent of women experience premenstrual syndrome. Meanwhile, less than 5 percent of women in childbearing age complain of having worse symptoms.

Menstrual Symptoms

The Difference: PMS vs. PMDD

Does your PMS symptoms feel much worse than what your girlfriends go through? If so, then you might have PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.) Symptoms of PMS are similar to PMDD and rear its ugly head about a week before your period is due.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PMS is defined as the following:

“PMS is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that many women get after ovulation and before the start of their menstrual period. Researchers think that PMS happens in the days after ovulation because estrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically if you are not pregnant.”

Emotional symptoms can be mood swings, whereas the physical symptoms can mean cramps, acne, bloating, headaches and water retention. However, PMDD symptoms tend to be much worse.

PMDD is actually listed as a mental health disorder in the DSM-IV. According to PhD, and director of the premenstrual evaluation unit at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Jean Endicott: 

“It’s a real biological condition for which women seek treatment--and for which effective treatment is available,”

“PMDD affects 3 to 8 percent of women in reproductive years,” according to research. If you’re suffering with the below symptoms, it’s time to book an appointment with your Gyno, stat!

Here are some nasty PMDD symptoms to look out for:

  • Mood swings much stronger than usual
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness
  • Intense anger and conflict with other people
  • Tension, anxiety, and irritability
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Appetite changes, fatigue and difficulty concentrating

PMS & PMDD Treatment

Treatment for PMS and PMDD are similar in terms of practicing self-care such as eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. You can see your Gyno for symptoms of PMS or PMDD, though for persistent and worsening emotional symptoms for those that have PMDD it’s advised to see a therapist. A professional in the behavioral field may recommend psychotropic medication to help with mood balancing.

Medical Disclaimer: Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask a medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.