Are they two different entities or one and the same? Let us discuss PMS vs. PMDD in the following article and learn the subtle differences between these two conditions affecting menstruating women.
Suffering from cramps and mood swings? You know it is a sign of premenstrual syndrome that indicates your menstrual cycle is soon to make an appearance. But, are you aware of another term similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)? Both share the same symptoms that occur a week or two before the start of monthly menses. The symptoms reduce soon after the menstruation begins or a day or so after. So, what is the difference between the two? And how would you know if you are suffering from one or the other? The following paragraphs will discuss the difference between the two that will help you understand the elusive points wherein they differ from one another.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
Women tend to suffer from many physical as well as emotional changes during the time of their menstruation cycle. These unpleasant psychological as well as physical symptoms are a part of their regular menstruation cycle. In majority of the cases, women tend to suffer from the milder form, that is, PMS. A few women, however, suffer from severe symptoms or PMDD that tend to cause many problems in their daily lives.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
It is a broad term that is used to describe the different patterns of physical, emotional and behavioral changes occurring in a woman. These changes occur about a week or two before a woman starts with her menses. It seems to affect about 30 to 80% of the women in their reproductive age. The symptoms are as follows:
- Sleep disturbance
- Increase in appetite
- Abdominal bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Weight gain
- Concentration problems
- Acne eruptions
- Muscle aches
- Increase in emotional sensitivity
- Social withdrawal
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
PMDD is another clinical manifestation that occurs a week or two before the start of a woman’s menses. It is, however, characterized as the most severe form of PMS. If you go through the symptoms of PMDD below, you will find that they are more or less similar to symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome mentioned above.
- Extreme anger
- Mood swings
- Change in appetite
- Extreme sensitivity
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Insomnia or sleeping excessively
- Weight gain
- Body aches and joint pain
- Feeling out of control
- Severe tension and hopelessness
Now, the symptoms may seem similar to PMS, but the intensity of the PMDD symptoms is far greater. This condition needs psychiatric diagnosis and is classified as the ‘depressive disorder not otherwise specified’ in the DSM-IV-TR. The symptoms of PMDD are more focused on the changes in mood than physical symptoms. It tends to have an extremely debilitating effect on the life of the woman experiencing it.
Difference between Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
It is necessary to diagnose and differentiate between the elusive symptoms of each of these clinical manifestations. The differences that help one differentiate between the two are as follows:
- The symptoms of PMDD are very severe and cause a debilitating effect on the daily life of a woman.
- The symptoms of PMS are milder and does not affect the life of a woman gravely.
- Women suffering from PMDD have problems completing their daily tasks.
- PMS does not cause problems when performing daily tasks.
- PMDD is less common and affects only about 3% to 5% of the women.
- PMS is very common and affects 30% to 80% of the women.
- PMDD is seen affecting women with a history of depression, bipolar depression or any other mental condition.
- Women with PMDD have a strong urge to commit suicide, which is not the case with women suffering from PMS.
- PMDD leads to social impairment as it interferes with their daily lives. Women with PMDD begin to develop relationship problems with their husbands, children and other people due to severe mood swings.
How to Treat Premenstrual Syndrome and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?
In case of PMS, one needs to relax and rest to relieve the symptoms. A nice hot bath will help reduce the aches and pains. One should avoid junk food and eat more of fresh fruits and vegetables. One may even speak to their doctor and get some medications prescribed. When it comes to PMDD, it is very important to seek medical help. This is because the symptoms are very severe and cause problems with a woman’s daily life as well as her relationships. The doctor will prescribe medications and behavioral therapy to control one’s anger, irritability and depression. A change in diet will also be recommended to overcome nutritional deficiencies. The doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications, antianxiety drugs, hormonal supplements and diuretics to treat PMDD.
It is important to know the difference between PMS and PMDD to be able to seek medical help accordingly. Every month, one has to undergo the grueling effects of menstruation. However, knowing the subtle differences can make all the difference to help end your monthly suffering for good.