All women are affected by their menstrual cycle and hormones, but just because you have many of the symptoms that are associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) doesn't mean you have the disorder. In order to have PMDD, many factors need to be considered.
According to Healthy Place.com, about three to five percent of women have PMDD, while, 20 to 50 percent of women between 30 and 40-years-old have premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Diane Sanford, a Missouri psychologist, said that out of all her patients only about one third actually have PMDD.
“About the other two thirds or so, what they’re really experiencing is a premenstrual intensification of problems that they’ve already had, so [there] may be some issues with depression, anxiety, mood changes, but it doesn’t really meet full criteria for PMDD,” Sanford said.
Change in hormones can be the cause of negative experiences such as sadness and irritability that surround the menstrual cycle Sanford said.
“I think that lately people are throwing around the phrase PMDD too casually and women may be thinking this is what they have without really meeting the criteria,” she said.
She said she generally has women chart their menstrual cycle over three months in order to help determine if they have PMDD or other problems.
“I don’t think the majority of women are necessarily really tuned into the kind of monthly variations they go through and if this is an issue for them or not,” she said.
A main indicator of PMDD is symptoms that occur prior to the menstrual cycle, not after or during your cycle.
The decrease in estrogen and progesterone premenstrually are thought to be the cause of PMDD, however, Sanford said another theory is simply sensitivity. "Some women are more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations," she said. "It’s the change itself…that they’re responding to.”
There are several options for PMDD treatment such as learning to minimize stress and being healthy. For more severe problems, birth control, hormonal intervention and antidepressants can be used, Sanford said.