Many women of child-bearing age will report that they experience “premenstrual syndrome” (PMS). This most often entails some type of relatively mild physical or emotional symptom for several days around the time they get their period.
However, approximately 5 per cent of women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a condition that is considerably more severe.
PMDD is a serious, chronic condition that requires treatment. It is characterized by intense emotional and physical symptoms that occur between ovulation and menstruation, year, after year, after year.
These extreme symptoms may include:
- Intense feelings of sadness or despair, even thoughts of suicide
- Feelings of tension or anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings or frequent crying
- Lasting irritability or uncontrollable anger that affects other people
- Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
- Trouble thinking or focusing
- Tiredness or low energy
- Food cravings or binge eating
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling overwhelmed or out of control
- Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
The cumulative effects of these repeated symptomatic periods can devastate a woman’s life. Relationships are often lost because of the recurrent behaviours; divorce rates are high.
Women report that, even during the ‘nonpremenstrual’ phases of their cycles, they frequently experience a sense of dread and helplessness as they anticipate the next period of uncontrollable symptoms. They feel guilty about the effect their condition has on others and worry about the future.