Menstrual Disorders Pmdd

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a debilitating set of symptoms associated with the part of a woman’s cycle that precedes her menstrual period. PMDD is also a psychiatric term for a major mood disturbance. “Dysphoria” derives from a Greek word meaning “distress” or “hard to bear,” and is used by the psychiatric and medical community as a diagnostic term. It generally refers to a type of depression.

Unlike PMS (the familiar set of discomforts occurring about a week before the onset of menstrual flow), PMDD symptoms are so severe that a woman’s day-to-day activities are completely disrupted. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is relatively rare, affecting about three to eight percent of women.

No clinical studies of premenstrual dysphoric disorder have been conducted, and more research is needed to establish its causes and treatments. The results of a survey commissioned by the Society for Women’s Health Research of Washington, DC indicate that 84 percent of respondents, including those with severe symptoms, had never heard of PMDD.

The first thing a woman must do if she suspects that she suffers from PMDD is to rise above any embarrassment or shame about the problem. The condition can be debilitating, and the most important step is to recognize the symptoms and get help. In fact, more than a fourth of women with severe PMS symptoms (who may, in fact, have PMDD) have never discussed it with their doctors.

Who is at Highest Risk?

Women with a history of depression are at increased risk for PMDD. Also, recent research suggests that, compared to other women, those who suffer from PMDD have an intensified response to stress.

Pemenstrual dysphoric disorder usually develops in a woman’s late teens to late 20s, but most women wait until their 30s before seeking treatment.

Rather than suffer needlessly, any woman who, as a regular part of her menstrual cycle, experiences five or more of the premenstrual symptoms indicated by the DSM-IV, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is well-advised to consult her physician.

All menstruating women can benefit from understanding and learning more about the characteristics of this condition, along with its symptoms and treatments.


Medline Plus. (updated 2002). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Retrieved August 14, 2002, from