PMS vs. PMDD: The Symptoms and Remedies

PMS vs. PMDD: The Symptoms and Remedies

PMS vs. PMDD: The Symptoms and Remedies

85% of women have at least one symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) regularly, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Around 10% of women also experience PMDD—an escalation of PMS that can interfere with your everyday life.

Most women experience some level of discomfort one to two weeks before their period. Since your body reacts uniquely to hormone fluctuation and stress stimuli, your symptoms and their intensity may vary. Managing PMS and PMDD can be made easier with a few simple lifestyle changes and by working in conjunction with your healthcare provider and gynecologist to develop a treatment plan.

What Are the Symptoms of PMS?

In order for your uterus to shed its lining every month during menstruation, your uterus contracts and flexes which can cause a cramping feeling in the pit of your abdomen. The hormones released to trigger menstruation can cause fluctuations in mood, body temperature, and your ability to concentrate.

These monthly aches, pains, and mood swings are all side effects of your menstrual cycle. The most common premenstrual symptoms include:

  • Acne outbreaks
  • Tender breasts
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Backaches
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue

These are all classic symptoms of PMS, but this list is not fully comprehensive. Some women experience other symptoms, like increased libido, increased appetite, or mild depression. Talk to your gynecologist if you are concerned about a particular symptom of your PMS.

Is There Treatment for PMS?

PMS can be treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Your doctor may suggest that you:

  • Exercise more
  • Focus your diet on eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Avoid salt, caffeine, and alcohol when you are feeling symptoms
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep
  • Refrain from smoking

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen can help alleviate some of your physical symptoms, like cramps and headaches. Often, birth control pills are prescribed as a hormone therapy treatment for PMS. Talk to your gynecologist about your symptoms before deciding to go on birth control.

What Is PMDD?

PMDD symptoms can be similar to those of PMS, although they are a more extreme version. PMDD occurs in 2 to 10 percent of women. The most prevalent theory about the cause of PMDD is that women who suffer from it have a predisposition to lower levels of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that helps control mood, focus, and pain.

The hormone fluctuations that trigger PMS aggravate your system, which does not have enough serotonin to balance your PMDD symptoms and make them manageable. PMDD can be diagnosed if your premenstrual symptoms are interfering with your quality of life. PMDD symptoms include:

  • Extreme feelings of sadness
  • Tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Angry outbursts
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Low energy
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling out of control
  • Suicidal thoughts

These symptoms often present themselves alongside the more common physical symptoms associated with PMS, like bloating and breast tenderness. For a diagnosis of PMDD, you must exhibit at least five of the severe symptoms associated with the condition. If you experience five or more of these symptoms monthly, speak to your gynecologist immediately about the likelihood that you have PMDD.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, tell someone you can trust or call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. While PMDD is a rare condition, you are not alone and there is treatment to help you.

What Is the Treatment for PMDD?

PMDD treatment often includes similar lifestyle changes to PMS treatment. Your doctor may also prescribe you a serotonin reuptake inhibitor—an antidepressant—to help you manage your condition. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors keep your serotonin levels balanced, which will help level out your emotional symptoms. Your doctor may also suggest counseling and stress management.

Birth control pills are a therapeutic option, as well. Always talk to your gynecologist before you decide to start or change your birth control routine. Sudden shifts in your hormone levels can affect your mood and make your PMDD symptoms worse.

For more information about PMDD symptoms or PMDD treatment, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501,222,4175 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced, compassionate gynecologists.

*Photo by James Palinsad through Flikr

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