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Is it PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder? 3 ways to find out

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is way more intense than premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Here you will find the difference between these two menstrual conditions and whether or not severe PMS can be PMDD.
Premementrual syndrome or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
There may be a thin line between PMS and PMDD, but you must know about it. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 2 Jun 2023, 14:40 pm IST
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Let’s talk about something that many women can relate to—the ups and downs of the menstrual cycle. That time when you count the days to Aunt Flo’s arrival, brings along some unwelcome guests called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Now imagine feeling like a balloon about to pop with bloating, having your breasts become tender and sensitive, dealing with mood swings as well as stress and irritability. It is like a hormonal roller-coaster that can make you feel off balance. But wait, there’s more! For some women, PMS takes a more intense form called PMDD, which stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

It is important to understand that PMS affects different women in different ways. For some, it is just a minor inconvenience, but for others, it can be more like a storm that disrupts their daily lives. The good news is that PMS symptoms can be managed. However, if you find yourself struggling with PMS or suspect you might have PMDD, it’s worth talking to a healthcare professional.

To help you understand whether you are dealing with PMS or PMDD, Health Shots spoke to Dr Thejaswini J, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Electronic City, Bengaluru.

Can severe PMS be PMDD?

Dr Thejaswini says, “PMS and PMDD are two distinct conditions that affect women before their menstrual period. While they share some similarities, PMDD is considered a more severe and debilitating form of PMS but not all cases of severe PMS are classified as PMDD.” With PMDD, the symptoms hit harder and last longer, typically affecting the week leading up to your period. One moment you are on cloud nine, and the next, a tiny annoyance can make you want to scream. We are talking about severe mood swings, intense irritability, anxiety, depression, and physical discomforts like bloating and headaches. PMDD can really throw a wrench in your daily life, making it difficult to work and do daily activities.

PMS symptoms are different from PMDD. Image courtesy: Shutterstock


PMS and PMDD are both related to the menstrual cycle and can cause physical and emotional symptoms in individuals. However, they differ in terms of severity, duration, and specific symptoms.

1. Symptoms

PMS: Common symptoms include bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, food cravings and mild depression.

PMDD: PMDD symptoms include severe mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and physical symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches.

2. Severity

PMS: PMS symptoms may cause discomfort and mild disruption in daily life, but they do not significantly impair functioning or quality of life.

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PMDD: PMDD symptoms are more severe and disruptive, often interfering with daily activities, work, relationships, and overall quality of life.

symptoms of PMS
Keep a check on your period cycle. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Duration

PMS: PMS symptoms typically occur in a week or two leading up to menstruation and usually resolve once menstruation starts.

PMDD: PMDD symptoms typically occur a week or two before menstruation and significantly improve within a few days after menstruation starts.

Keeping track of your menstrual cycle symptoms will help you differentiate between PMS and PMDD. You can spot patterns in your symptoms by keeping track of their severity. Also, you can then bring this information to a healthcare professional for additional evaluation and diagnosis. A healthcare professional can assess your symptoms, medical history, and any other relevant factors to determine whether you are experiencing PMS or if the symptoms meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PMDD.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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