What’s the difference between PMS and PMDD?
Women can learn to live with PMS: You find ways to soothe your cramps, satisfy your cravings, and process feelings that might be more intense than usual. But for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), the usual rules don’t apply, says Prudence Hall, MD, founder of the Hall Center.
“Severity is the difference,” says Dr. Hall. “The emotional component to PMDD can include one or more severe symptoms, such as extreme depression, or anger.” Though it may not occur every cycle, PMDD usually hits about seven to 14 days before your period, and the intensity increases as you get closer.
How do you know if your PMS is actually PMDD? “Start by keeping a diary of your symptoms—along with the severity and duration—through a couple of cycles,” says Constance A. Young, MD, an ob/gyn at Columbia University Medical Center. Watch for these telltale signs—diagnosis will usually include a combination of these symptoms, she says.
The bloating, muscle weakness, or weight gain seems out of control
When you have breast tenderness or swelling, joint or muscle pain, weight gain, appetite changes or specific food cravings, headache, severe bloating, severe cramping, or fatigue several cycles out of the year and it’s enough to interfere with work, school, or social activities, that’s an indicator of PMDD, says Sarah Noble, DO, a psychiatrist with Einstein Healthcare Network.