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Difference Between PMS and PMDD


Menstruation is a normal part of growing up for females and is a sign that a girl is becoming a young woman. It means that it is now possible for a girl to get pregnant and have a baby. The degree of discomfort experienced during menstruation may differ from woman to woman. Some are never bothered by their periods while others can be badly affected by unpleasant and unbearable symptoms premenstrually. For some, these symptoms are mild and tolerable, but for some these symptoms can be disabling and may cause disruption in their activities of daily living.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) both share the same set of physical as well as emotional symptoms which happen prior to the start of the menstrual cycle. Where they differ, however, is in the severity of their emotional symptoms and the mere fact that they may interfere with daily functioning. The exact cause of PMS is still unknown, but it seems to be related to the unstable levels of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, that usually occur in preparation for menstruation. Like PMS, the occurrence of PMDD is unknown, but recent studies have shown a connection between PMDD and low levels of serotonin which is a chemical in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals. Certain brain cells that utilize serotonin as a messenger are involved in controlling mood, attention, sleep, and pain. Therefore, chronic changes in serotonin levels can lead to PMDD symptoms.

Symptoms of PMS typically begin at or after ovulation and continue until menstruation begins. The most common physical symptom of PMS is fatigue. Other physical symptoms may include cravings for sweet or salty foods, abdominal bloating, weight gain, sore breasts, swollen feet or hands, headaches, acne, and numerous gastrointestinal problems. The emotional symptoms of PMS include depression, irritability, anxiety, or mood swings only in mild to moderate degrees. In contrast to PMS, PMDD is characterized as having more significant premenstrual mood disturbances. The most common of these is irritability. Many women also report depressed mood, anxiety, mood swings, despair, anxiety, loss of interest and motivation, loss of appetite, and/or sleep disturbance. These symptoms appear one to two weeks preceding menses and resolve completely with the onset of menses. By definition, this mood disturbance can cause social or occupational impairment with its most prominent effects in interpersonal functioning.

There is no single test to diagnose PMS, but there are some strategies which doctors may use to help diagnose PMS. One of these is to diagnose by recording symptoms for several menstrual cycles. Symptoms that occur in a foreseeable pattern (starting before menstruation, then disappearing when it begins) typically indicate PMS. On the other hand, PMDD is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms are being experienced seven to ten days before menstruation and resolved within a few days of the start of the menstrual period: Sudden changes in mood, marked anger, irritability, anxiety, decreased interest in usual activities, lassitude, change in appetite, insomnia, physical problems such as bloating.

Prevention of PMS involves finding the remedy or combination of remedies that work for each individual. For some women, dietary changes, such as eliminating caffeine and alcohol, and a low-salt diet will alleviate symptoms. Doctors often recommend vigorous, aerobic exercise because it is thought that exercise stimulates the body’s release of several neurotransmitters supplementing those that are at low levels. Treatments of PMS include diuretics (to ease fluid retention), oral contraceptives (for hormone control), and anti-anxiety medication for extreme irritability. Low doses of progesterone (a reproductive system hormone) have been used on an experimental basis. PMDD also includes some PMS preventions with the addition of medications as treatments including anti-depressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat the emotional symptoms of PMDD. In addition, individual, group counseling, and stress management may help a woman cope with PMDD.

1. PMDD is less common than PMS.
2. About 20 per cent to 50 per cent of women will experience PMS symptoms. Only about 3 per cent to 5 per cent of them will experience symptoms severe enough to meet the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for PMDD.
3. PMDD is a severe form of PMS.
4. They vary in terms of how they are being diagnosed.
5. They actually have different causes.
6. They are being prevented and treated in different ways.

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