Understanding Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
It’s not clear why some women have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, but hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle are known to play a key role. Some studies have shown that low levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals, may also lead to PDD symptoms.
Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Symptoms in premenstrual dysphoric disorder are similar to those of PMS, but are much more severe. They include:
- Mood swings
- Social withdrawal
- Sleep problems
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
- Food cravings
PDD symptoms can interfere with work and personal relationships.
Diagnosing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder occur only during the second half of the menstrual cycle and are severe enough to disrupt day-to-day activities.
Your gynecologist will conduct a thorough medical history and physical examination, and a psychiatric evaluation to rule out depression, alcohol or drug abuse and other disorders may also be needed.
Treatment of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Some symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder may respond to diet and lifestyle changes, including:
- Regular aerobic exercise
- Eliminating caffeine
- Reducing salt, sugar, dairy products and alcohol consumption
- Eating small, frequent meals high in carbohydrates
- Dietary Supplements – 1200 mg calcium daily, magnesium, vitamin E, folic acid, vitamin B6
Talk to your OB/GYN about your symptoms and whether or not dietary supplements are recommended. Excess amounts of vitamins can be harmful and some supplements interfere with other medications.
If symptoms continue even after lifestyle changes are implemented, medication may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
- Antidepressants – used 2 weeks prior to your period to reduce mood symptoms
- Beyaz & Yaz® oral contraceptives– the only birth control pills approved for treatment of PDD
- Diuretics – drugs that help prevent bloating and fluid build-up
With proper diagnosis and treatment, symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be managed. Talk with your gynecologist about current treatment regimens.