Key difference between premenstrual dysphoric disorder and premenstrual syndrome

Key difference between premenstrual dysphoric disorder and premenstrual syndrome

Despite the fact that a large proportion of the population experiences premenstrual symptoms, there are a number of differences between premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

On the one hand, PMS includes a range of emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physical symptoms that crop up and continue during the luteal period (one stage of the menstrual cycle) and resolve rapidly within a couple of days at the beginning of menstruation.

With more than 200 premenstrual symptoms around, it is quite difficult to diagnose PMS. Rather than being a solitary condition, further evidence highlights that PMS is a collection of interrelated symptoms with various genotypes, phenotypes, or subtypes, and other pathophysiologic events that occur with ovulation.

On the other hand, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is an extreme type of PMS. One of the primary characteristics of PMDD is premenstrual mood disturbances, particularly reactivity and irritability. Such drastic mood disturbances hamper social or occupational functioning and have severe implications in interpersonal functioning.

Usually, the symptoms of PMDD occur before menstruation and often conclude with its onset. Furthermore, the symptoms can exacerbate over time. Past findings also reported that these premenstrual symptoms tend to intensify among women who are likely to enter their menopause period.

The symptoms like mood swings, social withdrawal, headaches, fatigue, depressed mood, anxiety, lack of concentration, etc. are quite common during PMDD. Due to the overlapping of symptoms and due to the lapses in identifying the underlying mental disorders like anxiety disorder, medical practitioners tend to misdiagnose PMS and PMDD in women.

Occurrence of mood disturbances on a cyclical basis distinguishes PMDD from mood disorders

Though the onset of PMS and PMDD is not very much distinct, researchers, have identified that PMDD invloves comparatively more severe mood-related problems and mental health symptoms.  However, there is difference between PMDD and mood disorders due to the cyclical nature of the mood disturbance.

While the symptoms of mood disturbance persist only for a certain period of time in the case of PMDD, they stay constant or variable in the case of mood disorders. However, women suffering from mental health problems like anxiety disorders are comparatively more vulnerable to menstrual triggers.

The abnormal levels of the hormone estrogen and progesterone, associated with premenstrual mood disorder, can affect the central neurotransmission, especially the serotonergic, noradrenergic and dopaminergic pathways. Such fluctuations can trigger symptoms like irritability, depression and craving for carbohydrate.

Therefore, both PMS and PMDD represent a biological phenomenon rather than being completely psychological events. Although the symptoms of PMS and PMDD do not signify the aggravation of an existing disorder like major depression, anxiety and panic disorders, dysthymic disorder or personality disorder, they may, otherwise, overlap with one of the psychiatric disorders.

Seek professional help for better treatment

Over the decades, multiple therapies and treatments have been explored to effectively curb the symptoms of PMS and PMDD. These include:

  • Lifestyle changes: A tweak in one’s lifestyle can trigger numerous outcomes. The cutting down on caffeine and other addictive substances can help a person in improving his or her overall well-being. Besides, the regular practicing of yoga and stress management techniques can also help in maintaining a well-balanced life.
  • Proper education: Teenagers and young adults should be aware of the association between mood swings and menstruation. This can further help in building positive perceptions about disorders like PMS and PMDD. At the same time, this will enable women to understand and act effectively on their symptoms.
  • Stress management: By taking simple and effective measures, such as dietary changes, exercise and stress management, women can effectively, manage the psychological and physical symptoms witnessed before and during menstruation. Moreover, experiential techniques, such as biofeedback, self-hypnosis, relaxation exercises, massage, reflexology, guided imagery, light therapy and yoga, have exhibited promising results.

If symptoms of stress persist or are more significant, psychological counseling that includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or group therapy may be helpful. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBT in treating the PMS symptoms.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental health problem, contact the Colorado Mental Health Help for guidance on the mental health treatment centers in Colorado offering comprehensive treatment programs. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 or chat online with our specialists to get advice on the best inpatient mental health treatment centers in Colorado.