Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

It is very normal for women to experience mild symptoms of discomfort around the time of menstruation. Usually, the discomfort does not prevent them from going about their usual daily activities. Some women experience stronger discomfort associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), however, is a condition involving physical and psychological symptoms around the time of menstruation. The symptoms are like those of PMS, but more severe. PMDD causes significant distress and affects participation in normal work and social activities.

Some women do not seek treatment because of the stigma attached to premenstrual disorders. It’s important to remember that PMDD is recognized and there are effective treatments available.

How common is premenstrual dysphoric disorder?

Studies have found varying rates of PMDD. For example:

Symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder

PMDD is a diagnosis in the category of Depressive Disorders in the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is the diagnostic manual mental health professionals use. People with PMDD experience a combination of the following mood and physical symptoms, in the majority of their menstrual cycles, in the week before their period begins:

These symptoms usually reduce or completely go away in the week following menstruation (3).

What to do if you think you have premenstrual dysphoric disorder

If you experience distress or have difficulty going about your normal activities as a result of any of the above symptoms, consider one or more of these options:

Therapy types to consider for premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Many types of therapy are considered helpful for treating symptoms of PMDD, such as:

What to look for in a therapist for premenstrual dysphoric disorder

When selecting a mental health professional, it can be helpful to consider the following factors:

Personal fit

One of the most important things to consider is the potential for developing a strong working relationship with your therapist. This relationship is called the therapeutic alliance, and it’s the number one indicator of treatment efficacy. Some women find that they feel more comfortable working with a female therapist for PMDD. This is not always the case, but just a factor to consider.

Qualifications and experience

Be sure that you find a licensed mental health professional. Ask your prospective therapist ahead of time whether they have training and experience working with people with premenstrual disorders.

Talk in advance

The best way to judge how you might feel about your prospective therapist is to ask for a preliminary phone call (you can do this with our vetted Zencare therapists). Most therapists will be happy to oblige. This gives you the opportunity to ask about:

Try to speak to a few different therapists before making your mind up.

Find the best therapists near you

Find therapists who specialize in therapy for premenstrual disorders on Zencare, below. Search by insurance, fees, and location; watch therapist introductory videos; and book free initial calls to find the right therapist for you!

New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.

Sources:

(1) The prevalence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in a randomly selected group of urban and rural women

(2) European Medicines Agency, “Guideline on the treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

(3) Diagnostic Criteria for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

(4) Physical Exercise for Treatment of Mood Disorders: A Critical Review

(5) Management of Premenstrual Syndrome, BJOG 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.14260