Distinguishing similar mental disorders: PMS and PMDD

Distinguishing similar mental disorders: PMS and PMDD

A woman’s life is filled with certain experiences that a man never undergoes. Menstruation or menstrual cycle is one such thing that only women experience, typically every month. Menstrual cycle is a pivotal process in the female reproductive system that prepares the body for pregnancy. Regular menstrual cycles are also indicative of the fact that the body is functioning normal. Also commonly termed as “having a period,” women can go through a lot of physical and emotional changes, discomfort and period-related symptoms around the time of their periods.

There are various problems related to the menstrual cycle that women often face. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) are two such conditions many often experience before or during the menstrual cycle.

PMS is a condition that affects a woman’s emotional and physical health, and behavior. The condition is basically a group of symptoms that occurs one to two weeks before the period starts and usually goes away once the woman bleeds. PMDD is a severe form of PMS. It is a state in which a woman experiences severe mood disturbances and irritability, but those also ease off with the beginning of the menses.

PMS is often confused with PMDD or vice versa. While both the conditions might have similar emotional and physical symptoms, it is important to closely scrutinize a condition before arriving at a decision. Therefore, as part of our series “Distinguishing similar mental disorders,” here we discuss the differences between PMS and PMDD which may help you in understanding the conditions better.

Differences between PMS and PMDD

PMS includes physical and emotional symptoms such as acne, tender breasts, fatigue, headache, backache, trouble sleeping, mood swings, bloating, anxiety and depression, among others. It can also cause constipation, diarrhea, sensitivity to light and irritability. Though quite similar, the symptoms of PMDD are more severe and include conditions like extreme anxiety, disinterest in daily activities, frequent crying and food cravings. It can also lead to hopelessness, panic attacks and poor concentration.

The exact causes of PMS and PMDD are not clearly known. However, changes in hormones, like estrogen which is responsible for female reproductive developments around and during the menstrual cycle, may lead to these conditions. Other possible contributing causes may include family history of PMS, chemical changes in the brain, low levels of vitamins and minerals, domestic violence and substance abuse. Emotional problems such as depression may not cause PMS or PMDD, however, they may make these conditions worse.

Dealing with PMS and PMDD

Incorporating a few lifestyle changes, opting for medications and alternative therapies can help in alleviating the symptoms of PMS. Drinking plenty of fluids, eating a balanced diet, taking vitamin D and regular exercising are some of the simple ways to deal with the condition.

To lessen the symptoms of PMDD, a woman can take antidepressants such as fluoxetine and sertraline, birth control pills, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and incorporate some lifestyle changes. It is essential to ensure that the medications are taken only after consulting with a medical expert.

Path to treatment

Before walking in for an expert’s help, a woman must take a note of the symptoms that she noticed in her body during the last 4-5 months. The medical expert can then carefully study the symptoms, review her medical history and suggest a thorough medical examination. Treating the condition is easier once it is diagnosed correctly.

It is difficult to prevent conditions like PMS and PMDD. Educating women and providing appropriate treatment on time can go a long way in improving the overall health. If you know someone near you who is suffering from any mental illness, you may contact the Florida Mental Health Helpline for information on mental disorder treatment in Florida. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online for further expert advice on treatment for mental disorders in Florida. 

Read the other articles of the series:

Distinguishing similar mental disorders: OCD and OCPD

Distinguishing similar mental disorders: BD and BPD

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