Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) are conditions that many women face, impacting their physical and emotional well-being each month. While PMS is a common phenomenon, PMDD represents a more severe form that can significantly affect a person’s life. In this blog, we’ll delve into the differences between PMS and PMDD, explore their causes, and discuss various treatment options, with a focus on hormone treatment, contraception, cycle suppression, psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and lifestyle changes.


Understanding PMS and PMDD:


Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):

PMS is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, typically in the two weeks before menstruation. Symptoms can vary widely and may include mood swings, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, and fatigue. While PMS can be challenging, it is considered a normal part of the menstrual cycle.


Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):

PMDD is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome, characterized by intense mood disturbances and physical symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s daily life. PMDD is less common but can be more debilitating, affecting about 3-8% of menstruating individuals. Symptoms can include severe depression, anxiety, irritability, and feelings of hopelessness.


Causes of PMS and PMDD:


The exact causes of PMS and PMDD are not fully understood, but hormonal fluctuations, particularly in oestrogen and progesterone levels, play a significant role. These hormonal changes can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, leading to mood swings and emotional symptoms. Genetic factors, environmental influences, and individual sensitivity to hormonal changes may also contribute.


Hormones and the Monthly Cycle:


Understanding the hormonal fluctuations in the menstrual cycle is crucial for comprehending PMS and PMDD. Oestrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall throughout the month, influencing mood, energy levels, and physical symptoms. In the luteal phase, just before menstruation, a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone levels may trigger PMS and PMDD symptoms.


Treatment Options:


  1. Hormone Treatment: 

   – Hormonal therapies, such as birth control pills, can regulate hormonal fluctuations, reducing PMS and PMDD symptoms.

   – Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be considered for women approaching menopause.


  1. Contraception and Cycle Suppression:

   – Continuous use of birth control pills to suppress menstrual cycles can alleviate symptoms.

   – Intrauterine devices (IUDs) that release hormones may be effective.


  1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs):

    – SSRIs, commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, have shown efficacy in managing PMDD symptoms. These medications help regulate serotonin levels in the brain, mitigating mood-related symptoms.


  1. Psychotherapy and CBT:

   – Systemic psychotherapy can help individuals cope with the emotional challenges of PMS and PMDD.

   – Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can provide tools to manage negative thought patterns and behaviours.


  1. Lifestyle Changes:

   – Regular exercise can improve mood and alleviate physical symptoms.

   – A balanced diet rich in nutrients may help regulate hormonal fluctuations.

   – Stress management techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can be beneficial.


Living with PMS or PMDD can be challenging, but understanding the conditions and exploring diverse treatment options can empower individuals to regain control of their lives. Whether through hormonal interventions, psychotherapy, or lifestyle changes, finding the right combination of strategies can significantly improve the quality of life for those affected by these conditions. Seeking support from healthcare professionals and building a holistic approach tailored to individual needs are crucial steps in managing and overcoming the impacts of this.