The symptoms can be physical (like bloating, fatigue, or cramps) and emotional (like heightened irritability, mood swings, or crying spells). They typically range from mild to moderate, but they’re mostly manageable. PMDD, on the other hand, is best described as a magnified version of PMS. All of the not-so-pleasant physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms are cranked up a notch… or sometimes ten.
Psychologically, those with PMDD frequently experience severe bouts of depression, overwhelming anxiety, sharp mood swings, sudden outbursts of anger, increased irritability, heightened sensitivity, paranoia, negative rumination, social withdrawal, and a sudden lack of interest in activities formerly enjoyed. Physically, those with PMDD may suffer from bloating, breast tenderness, increased appetite, stomach problems, recurring headaches, extreme fatigue, flu-like body aches, and insomnia. PMDD can also lead to difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, cognitive confusion, feelings of overwhelm, or feeling out of control.
If you have PMDD, you’ll likely notice symptoms creeping in about 7 to 10 days before your period. They’ll usually carry over into the first few days of your period as well. For some, it can go last even longer, taking up half of every month. While the timeframe is somewhat similar to PMS, PMDD can feel like it lasts much longer due to the severity of the symptoms. Daily tasks are often disrupted, causing problems for many at home, at work, and in their relationships.
So before you self-diagnose based on the symptoms noted above, you should talk to your doctor. If you feel like you definitely suffer from PMDD, you still need to rule out other conditions first with the help of a medical professional. Until you talk with a doctor, it won’t hurt to do some research to help figure out if you’re suffering from PMDD or something else. Start by charting your symptoms, when they occur, how long they last, and what they entail. If it’s PMDD, your symptoms will only occur at certain times during your cycle, so keep up with those dates on a calendar.