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Signs You May Have PMDD (and what to do about it)

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According to recent research, PMS is usually mild, but for about 10 percent of women, it can get much more series. This condition is known as PMDD, and can pose a real problem. Find more about PMDD below.

According to recent research, PMS as we know it may not exist. One study found that symptoms of PMS are highly generalized, with a wide range of ambiguous symptoms like mood swings, headaches, and back pain.

But the study researchers found that few of these symptoms were actually tied to a woman’s monthly cycle. Some women had these symptoms during their period, others right after, some before, and some in the middle of their cycles.

The study suggest that although mood swings and pain are common in women, they are probably not related to menstruation as much as the everyday mood changes and pains that both women and men experience.

Although the mood symptoms of PMS may be exaggerated for the majority of women, every woman who has had monthly cramps knows that they are no joke and can be a serious problem that interferes with everyday life. PMS may not be something that every woman faces each month, but research shows that for up to 10 percent of women, PMS is quite serious. Physicians label this extreme form of PMS as Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Women with PMDD not only have everyday PMS symptoms like cramping and bloating, but also experience severe mood changes including extreme anxiety, depression, and irritability. These feelings are strong enough to interfere with a woman’s everyday experiences and may cause her to miss work or stay in bed for a few days. Women with PMDD may also have stronger physical side effects of PMS, such as painful cramps, fever, and nausea.

If you feel like your PMS is much more serious than other women you know, you could be suffering from PMDD.

What are the Symptoms of PMDD?

According to Medicine Net, the symptoms of PMDD can include:

  • Extreme sadness or depression
  • Marked mood swings
  • Extreme irritability
  • Strong anxiety
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Painful cramps (strong enough to prevent daily activity)
  • Insomnia
  • Crying episodes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Marked changes in appetite

Medicine Net states that since PMDD shares symptoms with other mental disorders (anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder), women must keep a log of symptoms for several months to determine if menstruation is the source of the mood changes. A woman who has these symptoms at other periods in the month is unlikely to have PMDD.

A woman must have five of the above symptoms for two consecutive menstrual cycles in the days leading up to the start of their periods before they can be officially diagnosed. If a woman has these symptoms immediately following their cycle, or during ovulation, it is likely that some other mental disorder is the cause. If you suspect you have PMDD, there are treatment options that can help prevent some of the worst symptoms. Read on to find out how PMDD can be treated naturally.

What Causes PMDD?

The medical industry is not sure what causes some women to suffer from PMDD while others have virtually zero PMS symptoms of any kind. However, studies have found that women with PMDD typically have lower levels of serotonin and may have similar symptoms to individuals with depression and other mood disorders. It may be possible that other mood disorders increase a woman’s chances of suffering from PMDD.

However, although scientists are not quite sure why women get PMDD, they have found several effective treatment methods for PMDD that can help women live normal lives once again.

Treatments for PMDD

Many health professionals treat PMDD with antidepressants, as it is a mood disorder with similar symptoms to antidepressants. The trouble with antidepressants, however, is that patients must take them on a regular basis and many antidepressants have drastic side effects. A woman who feels normal during the other three weeks of the month may not want to take antidepressants every day just to treat one week of illness.

15 percent of women taking SSRI antidepressants have side effects such as nausea, headaches, and anxiety. If a woman does not want to take antidepressants, however, she is not doomed to a lifetime of rehabilitating mood swings. Luckily, there are natural treatments and lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in PMDD symptoms. These natural treatments include:


Research has shown that certain supplements can have a beneficial effect against PMDD and milder forms of PMS symptoms. If you suffer from PMDD, consider adding the following supplements to your daily food intake:

Chasteberry: One trial found that when women supplemented with chasteberry, their PMDD symptoms decreased.

Vitamin B6, E, and D: Studies have found that a higher intake of vitamin B6, E, and D are beneficial in reducing PMDD symptoms.

Calcium and Magnesium: These two minerals are extremely important for women’s health. Not only can they reduce symptoms of PMDD, but they can also help the metabolism and work to prevent osteoporosis.

Omega 3: Studies have found that adding this fat to a woman’s diet can reduce symptoms of PMDD.

5-HTTP: Some studies have suggested that supplementing with 5-HTP (which is an amino acid that helps raise serotonin levels) in the evening can reduce symptoms of PMDD.

L-tryptophan: Just like 5-HTP, l-tryptophan works to boost serotonin levels in the brain, leading to improved moods and reduced PMDD symptoms.

Diet Changes

Unhealthy diets lead to unhealthy bodies. Most women realize this, but still, for a lot of women, it is much easier to eat a donut on the way to work than it is to get up early to prepare a healthy breakfast. A high-sugar, high junk-food diet will destroy your body slowly from the inside out. Women require a large daily dose of nutrients that keep the body’s systems working properly. If you eat the following foods, your body will thank you:

Foods that Help PMS 
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • High-quality protein
  • Healthy fats (animal fats, coconut oil, palm oil, omega-3 fats)
  • Whole grains
  • Unprocessed foods


Exercise is linked to improved mood, reduced cramps, and all-over wellness in women. Exercising for at least 30 minutes three times daily can provide a boost of serotonin and endorphins that can reduce feelings of depression. Exercise is even powerful enough to cure some minor to moderate forms of depression. Exercising outside may have even bigger benefits for improving mood.


A lot of women tend to try to reduce carbs in their diets, because in today’s dietary fads, carbs are the enemy. Women are supposed to switch out unhealthy “empty” carbs with foods that provide more nutrition and fiber, such as raw vegetables, fat-free dairy, and protein. However, this diet may be neglecting an important part of what should be a complete diet for women.

According to Psychology Today, carbohydrates are responsible for boosting serotonin levels in the brain (happiness chemicals, so to speak). Carbs contain tryptophan, which is necessary for creating serotonin. It is possible that neglecting carbs could contribute to reduced serotonin levels, which is likely to lead to feelings of depression.

According to the article, women with PMDD tend to crave carbs for that mood-boost that can prevent some of the symptoms of PMDD. Therefore, eating a higher number of carbs just before menstruation could reduce the amount of PMDD symptoms a woman sees each month. However, not all carbs are created equal. Try to avoid carbs from processed foods and junk food, as these usually contain sugar and lower levels of nutrients. Fresh grains, for example, contain high levels of minerals and B vitamins that can boost mood and regulate hormones. But processed grains have most of these nutrients removed, then added back as a synthetic form (if at all).

When choosing carbs, try to find grains as close to their original form as possible. Also remember, vegetables and fruit also contain carbs.

Hormone Regulation

Unregulated hormones are more likely to have uncomfortable and painful side effects. If your reproductive hormones are out of balance, then you are more likely to have painful side effects. Many of the above steps will also help regulate hormones, but if you still feel like you need some extra hormone help,

Dr. Christiane Northrup, OB/GYN and women’s health expert, states that the following steps can help regulate female hormones:

  • Eat regular, scheduled meals.
  • Eat protein with every meal.
  • Eat more fat- specifically from animal fats and omega-3 fats.

Stop PMDD Naturally

If you suffer from the extreme form of PMS, PMDD, you know just how frustrating it is to suffer from extreme mood swings and pain each month. Studies show that the above methods can be highly effective in reducing PMDD symptoms. You may not be able to completely eliminate all PMDD symptoms, but if you give your body the right tools, it is possible to reduce your symptoms and help you function normally again. Natural treatments for PMDD are often just as effective as taking antidepressants and have fewer side effects and complications. A combination of diet changes, hormone regulation, exercise, and supplements may be just what you need to reverse your PMDD and live a normal life once more.





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