Dysphoric Disorder: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

This lesson will provide an overview of dysphoric disorder. The focus will be on defining premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and how it is distinguished from PMS. Symptoms and treatment of dysphoric disorder will also be discussed.

What's Going On?

Julie is a 30 year-old otherwise healthy woman, but she has not been feeling herself. Although she's always suffered from premenstrual symptoms, this past year things seem worse than ever. In addition to feeling bloated, suffering from cramps, and dealing with moodiness, Julie has developed anxiety symptoms and severe sadness bordering on depression. She has difficulty concentrating and feels exasperated. Julie wonders if something more serious than PMS is going on?

Dysphoric Disorder

Considering Julie's symptoms, it's possible that she is suffering from a condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder also referred to as PMDD. PMDD is a mood disorder that is associated with the menstrual cycle in women. The onset of PMDD is usually about 7 to 10 days prior to menstruation, and it continues for a few days after menstruation begins. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder differs from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in that the symptoms experienced tend to be much more severe. Like PMS, however, PMDD is predictable and occurs in a cyclical pattern.

The cause of PMDD is really not known, but it does appear that women who suffer from underlying anxiety issues and depression are more susceptible to developing symptoms. Therefore, it is sometimes inferred that PMDD is associated with the hormonal changes that take place during the pre-menstrual cycle.

Symptoms of PMDD

There are several symptoms associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder. While PMS typically is marked by symptoms such as irritability, breast tenderness, cramping, fatigue, and changes in eating habits, PMDD has additional symptoms such as:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme irritability and anger
  • Extreme moodiness

Treating PMDD

While the underlying cause of premenstrual dysphoric disorder remains vague and speculated upon, effective treatments for this mood disorder are available. Treatment options include:

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