Understanding PMS: When Is It Too Much, and When to Seek Help - Exploring Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Understanding PMS: When Is It Too Much, and When to Seek Help - Exploring Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Most women are well-acquainted with PMS, or premenstrual syndrome – a range of physical and emotional symptoms that often occur in the days leading up to their periods. But what happens when PMS becomes more than just an inconvenience, when it starts to interfere with daily life and emotional well-being? In some cases, it may be a sign of a more severe condition known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This blog will explore how to differentiate between typical PMS and PMDD and when it's time to seek help. 


Understanding Typical PMS: Typical PMS is a collection of symptoms that affect many women in the days before their period. These symptoms can vary widely but often include: 

  1. Mood Swings: Feeling more emotional, irritable, or anxious than usual. 
  2. Physical Symptoms: Experiencing breast tenderness, bloating, and headaches. 
  3. Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired and experiencing changes in sleep patterns. 
  4. Food Cravings: Often for sweet or salty foods. 
  5. Minor Physical Discomfort: Mild pelvic or abdominal pain. 

These symptoms are common and manageable for many women. They usually subside once menstruation begins. 


When It's More Than PMS: PMDD: PMDD, on the other hand, is a severe and often debilitating form of PMS. While it shares some symptoms with typical PMS, it goes further, causing intense emotional and physical distress. PMDD symptoms can include: 

  1. Severe Mood Disturbances: This may include extreme irritability, anger, sadness, and even thoughts of hopelessness. 
  2. Physical Symptoms: PMDD can cause severe bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches. 
  3. Cognitive Issues: Some women with PMDD have trouble concentrating or get significant fatigue. 
  4. Disruption of Daily Life: PMDD can interfere with work, relationships, and daily activities. 


When to Seek Help: It's crucial to differentiate between typical PMS and PMDD to know when to seek help. If you find that your symptoms are significantly impacting your life, consider the following steps: 

  1. Symptom Tracking: Keep a record of your symptoms for a few months, noting their severity and duration. 
  2. Consult a Healthcare Provider: If your symptoms are severe, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They can help rule out other conditions and assess whether PMDD might be the cause. 
  3. Consider Treatment Options: Treatment for PMDD can include lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication. Your healthcare provider can help you determine the most suitable approach. 


PMS is a common experience for many women, but when it escalates to the level of PMDD, it can be overwhelming and disruptive. Understanding the difference between typical PMS and PMDD is crucial. If you find that your premenstrual symptoms are severely affecting your daily life, don't hesitate to seek help. PMDD is a real and treatable condition, and there's no need to suffer in silence. Reach out to a healthcare provider who can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Remember, you're not alone in this, and support is available. 

If you need to chat about your PMS or thinking you might have PMDD give us a call and chat with our Vagenius 0800 692 876 OR contact us by email and we can decide your next steps together. hello@mycup.co.nz 

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