Could It Be More Than PMS?
How to tell when your period symptoms are cause for concern, and what you should do about it.
Cramps and crankiness: even the luckiest among us have suffered premenstrual symptoms at one time or another. If the discomfort is mild and fleeting, the cure can be as simple as telling yourself, “Hey, it’s only PMS.” But sometimes, cyclical maladies can crescendo, making you truly miserable in body and in mind. When that happens, it’s not “just” PMS; it’s a more serious condition known as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).
PMDD strikes one in 10 women, causing symptoms so severe they interfere with daily life. If depression runs in your family or if you have suffered from it yourself, your risk is higher. No one knows what causes PMS or PMDD, though hormone levels are thought to play a major role. Scientists also believe the disorder is linked to lower levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter.
Is It PMDD?
How do you know whether you have garden variety PMS, or its evil twin, PMDD? According to the Cleveland Clinic, “PMDD is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms occur seven to 10 days before menstruation and go away within a few days of the start of the menstrual period.” The symptoms cluster includes: mood swings, anger and irritability, tension, fatigue, decreased interest in normal activities, sleep problems, bloating and a change in appetite, which can manifest as cravings, overeating or lack or appetite. PMDD can even cause muscle aches, joint pain and headaches. Sufferers say you’ll know if you have it because you’ll feel like crap.