What are the symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: How to deal with it

22 December 2017
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What are the symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: How to deal with it


    Since your first day of period, chances are high that you have already experienced premenstrual syndrome (PMS). According to statistics, a third of the menstruating population have PMS mostly characterized by tender breasts, cramps, food cravings, fatigue, and moodiness. However, when symptoms are debilitating that it interferes with the activities of daily living, relationships, school, work, and social life, the whole package is referred as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).   


    General Facts About PMDD

    • PMDD happens in at least 8% of women who are in their menstruation years.
    • Many symptoms happen all at the same time such as abdominal bloating, mood changes, and fatigue.
    • Professionals diagnose PMDD through a charting in a symptom diary where a woman jots down the daily symptoms for tow consecutive menstruation cycle.
    • The most treatment modality is SSRI medication and those that suppress ovarian hormones production.

    What causes PMDD?

    While the exact causative factor of PMDD is until now unknown, health experts attribute it to the abnormal reactions of the hormones to the menstrual cycle. There are even studies that somehow establish the connection between PMDD and low serotonin levels- the brain chemical that transmits nerve signals. Brain cells that require serotonin to function also control sleep, mood, attention, and pain. When hormonal activities change during menstruation, PMDD symptoms may surface.


    What are the symptoms of PMDD?

    PMDD symptoms usually show up one or two weeks before the start of a period and can last several days after the cycle. Daily activities may be affected because the symptoms are debilitating and severe. Some of the notable symptoms are irritability, anxiety, tension, conflict, intense anger, depression, mood swings, fatigue, out of control, changes in the appetite, changes in concentration, and sleep problems. Other women also experience headaches, bloating, cramps, breast tenderness, sleep problems, hot flashes and muscle pain.


    How is PMDD diagnosed?

    See a doctor if a few of the classic symptoms happen. A thorough physical examination will be conducted with a few tests for emotions and mentality to assess the level of discomfort. Before the final diagnosis, the doctor will have to make sure that the symptoms aren’t brought about by panic disorders or depression. Gynecological and medial conditions must be ruled out also like menopause, fibroids, and endometriosis.  

    A final PMDD diagnosis is made when five or more of the above-mentioned symptoms are experienced, the syndrome starts at least seven days before the onset of menstrual cycle and goes away immediately after bleeding.


    How to manage PMDD?

    One important fact that needs to be established is that PMDD cannot be prevented, primarily because it is a result of the interaction of neurotransmitters with ovarian hormones. 


    Most of the strategies that are used to manage PMS are helpful in PMDD symptoms relief. The Most common treatment are diet changes, hormone therapy, antidepressants, diet modification, hormone therapy, regular exercise, vitamin supplements, stress management, and anti-inflammatory medicines. Sarafem, Prozac, and Zoloft, examples of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, are highly effective in reducing sleep problems, food cravings, fatigue, and emotional symptoms. 


    Pain relievers that are readily available over-the-counter like NSAIDS, ibuprofen and aspirin could also help take away common symptoms such as cramping, backache, breast tenderness, and headaches. Water pills or diuretics, on the other hand, relieve bloating and fluid retention. Seeing a therapist oftentimes work with patients because they can build better coping strategies throughout the phase. While not thoroughly explained on how it delivers comfort to patients, yoga, reflexology, meditation, and many other forms of relaxation techniques also work.
    Health experts say that PMDD patients should limit their consumption of alcohol, refined sugar, caffeine, and salt. Also, increasing the intake of supplements like magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and calcium is recommended. There are recent studies, moreover, that show pain relief after incorporating supplementary and dietary calcium in the diet.


    Lifestyle changes also play a huge role in providing comfort during PMDD. Aerobic exercises like swimming and walking appear, especially when done regularly, improve the severity pain of premenstrual symptoms. While its relationship to PMDD symptoms has not been established until this day, regular physical activity is highly recommended. Also, practicing relaxation techniques, avoiding stress, getting enough rest and sleep, as well as avoiding emotional triggers like arguments can significantly help in lessening the intensity of PMDD’s pain discomfort.


    Herbal remedies have also proven its worth in providing comfort throughout PMDD. Research claims that chasteberries reduce episodes of food cravings, cramps, swelling, breast tenderness, mood swings, and irritability. However, since herbal supplementation is not regulated by any government agency, it is best to consult a doctor before taking in some.


    All symptoms should be consulted and reviewed together with a physician. A medical evaluation is the strongest confirmatory test on whether the symptoms point to PMDD or another physical condition.  When the final diagnosis is PMDD, the physician can prescribe medications and recommend supplementary treatments when needed.


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