Tiredness, irritability, pelvic swelling, moderate to severe pain, … are symptoms that all women recognize as typical of menstruation. However, this symptomatology can be much more intense, becoming a real martyrdom.
Some women suffer from the extreme discomfort of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).. There is also premenstrual syndrome, which is common and whose discomfort can be relieved with a painkiller or by taking a break. However, premenstrual dysphoric disorder makes these cases truly extreme.
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Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: symptoms, causes and treatment.
The premenstrual dysphoric disorder represents the set of physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms that occur in premenstrual syndrome, but with much greater intensity. Such a degree of pain is suffered that it is a disabling condition for the sufferer.
Up to 4.8% of women of reproductive age suffer from this condition. It occurs 7 to 10 days before menstruation, and these pains usually cease once it arrives. The intensity of the pain can affect daily life, including personal and work relationships.
The symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder are also psychoemotional and behavioral.. The pain takes hold of the person, and in some cases extends for 1 or 2 days after the period arrives. Sometimes the physical pain may not be as intense as the emotional symptoms.
Within the range of symptoms that occur in premenstrual dysphoric disorder, some may be more prominent than others. Typically, they occur together, which can trigger a number of difficulties. The symptoms that occur with this disorder are as follows.
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During the luteal phase prior to menstruation, a lot of anxiety may be manifested. This state of mind can become very intense during these days and make it impossible for the sufferer to go on with her normal life. The anxiety disappears or decreases considerably when menstruation arrives.
Irritability can develop into intense anger.. Those who suffer from this disorder, unlike those who suffer from premenstrual syndrome, feel a greater and uncontrollable anger. This strong reaction can cause serious problems in their personal and work relationships. During the premenstrual stage it is very common that these people have difficulty controlling their mood.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder can cause a deep sadness that is difficult to overcome.. Even without an apparent cause, women affected by this disorder can often have a very intense sense of hopelessness. They find it difficult to find motivation even in things or situations that usually comfort them.
4. Sleep disorder and eating habits
Other common symptoms of this disorder are changes in sleep and eating habits.. Without any apparent cause, sleep is affected by either insomnia or extreme tiredness. This tiredness, moreover, does not improve even with sufficient sleep. Also a total lack of appetite or a compulsive desire to eat may appear.
Headache is a symptom that also appears in premenstrual syndrome.. In the case of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, there is an intense pain in the head, accompanied by heaviness and sometimes even confusion. It can last for several days before menstruation and disappear as soon as menstruation arrives.
Dysmenorrhea refers to painful menstruation.. Intense pain occurs in the belly, hips and legs. In addition, many women feel intense cramps that go away when the period ends. It is one of the most obvious symptoms related to premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
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As with premenstrual syndrome, the causes of this disorder are not known for certain.. There are few conclusive studies on the subject, and given the subjectivity of the symptomatology it is common that these are psychiatric in nature.
It is common to confuse premenstrual dysphoric disorder with premenstrual syndrome or other diseases related to menstruation (such as myomas or endometriosis), downplaying the emotional aspect. This usually implies a delay in diagnosis,
S believes that the root of the explanation must be related to the hormonal changes typical of the luteal stage, especially during the days prior to the arrival of the menstrual period. Some antecedents that could trigger premenstrual dysphoric disorder are listed below.
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1. Alcohol or drug abuse
The abuse of alcohol or narcotics could be a trigger for the symptoms of this disorder.. Although it is not completely proven, one of the factors that contribute to increase the intensity of the discomfort is the abuse of these substances that alter the nervous system and are potentiated by hormonal changes.
Thyroid disorder is related to hormonal disorders.. For this reason there could be a relationship between a thyroid problem and the intensity of the discomfort prior to menstruation. Whether hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, a thyroid condition should be discussed with your doctor.
Overweight is also related to the presence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.. A malfunctioning metabolism can cause overweight, which in turn causes endocrine disruption. As with the other causes, this is not fully proven. However, it could be a possibility when considering all the negative effects that overweight causes in the organism.
4. Lack of exercise
Lack of exercise could also be a cause of this disorder.. It is known that the more physical activity women have, the less intense the symptoms become. In any case, frequent exercise is always recommended as a form of prevention.
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Treatment for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
The treatment for this disorder is symptomatic focused. This means that it prioritizes minimizing or preventing symptoms since there is no certainty about the real cause of the disorder; there is no treatment that will eliminate the disorder as such.
There are no laboratory or imaging studies that allow a diagnosis to be made. The diagnosis is made on the basis of medical history and observation, as well as the physician’s judgment. Because of this situation, many women self-medicate with painkillers and other medications, which should be avoided.
While it is up to the doctor to decide on the treatment, in most cases it works for treatment to be comprehensive. This means that the treatment should consider the physical and the psychological part of the person.
The latter is the one that is most affected by this disorder, even causing serious problems at the social and family level.
1. Contraceptive pills
Birth control pills may promote or lessen the discomfort of this disorder.. Because contraceptives have hormones, many women benefit from using them because they regulate their hormonal processes. This causes a decrease in the intensity of the discomfort.
Analgesics relieve the pain present in premenstrual dysphoric disorder.. Whether to combat headache or pain in the belly or joints, analgesics are a great ally. Women with this disorder often take painkillers, which at least avoids physical discomfort.
3. Antidepressants and anxiolytics
An antidepressant medication reduces emotional symptoms, fatigue and sleep disorders.. In the same way, anxiolytics help to minimize the feeling of sadness and anxiety. It is important that these medications are prescribed by a physician.
4. Lifestyle change
Radical lifestyle change could eliminate premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It requires more effort and the results may be long term, but it is worth a try. Changing eating habits, exercising consistently, going to a psychotherapist and applying stress management techniques can help a lot. Sometimes you have to change certain things in a person’s life and that the body has better conditions to combat a disorder like this.
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Burger, H.G., Hale, G.E., Robertson, D.M. and Dennerstein, L. (2007). A review of hormonal changes during the menopausal transition: focus on findings from the Melbourne Women’s Midlife Health Project. Human Reproductive Update, 13 (6), 559-565.
Kumar, P.K. (2001). Common women’s diseases and their cure. B Jain Publishers Pvt Ltd.
Halbreich, U. (2004). The diagnosis of premenstrual syndromes and premenstrual dysphoric disorder–clinical procedures and research perspectives. Gynecol. Endocrinol, 19 (6), 320-334.