January 07, 2021 2 min read

It’s difficult enough understanding our menstrual cycle, let alone the difference between PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). PMS and your period go hand in hand. In terms of PMS, some women are lucky and don’t get it at all. However, 3 out of 4 women experience PMS symptoms. This equates to 75 percent of women experience premenstrual syndrome. Meanwhile, less than 5 percent of women in childbearing age complain of having worse symptoms.

The Difference: PMS vs. PMDD

Does your PMS symptoms feel much worse than what your girlfriends go through? If so, then you might have PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.) Symptoms of PMS are similar to PMDD and rear its ugly head about a week before your period is due.

According to Health Direct Australia, PMS is defined as the following:

“Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) describes the symptoms that occur around the time of your period. Both emotional and physical symptoms usually start in the few days before you start bleeding, and finish during your period.”

Symptoms can include:

  • tender or swollen breasts
  • water retention
  • backache
  • abdominal pain or swelling, feeling bloated
  • swollen ankles
  • acne
  • headaches or migraines
  • fluid retention
  • poor coordination or clumsiness
  • tiredness, lethargy, insomnia
  • weight gain
  • constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • food cravings

You may also find that you are more irritable, nervous or depressed and may have mood swings and difficulty sleeping.

PMDD on the other hand is a severe form of PMS that causes psychological distress and socioeconomic dysfunction. PMDD affects about 3-8% of women in reproductive years, according to research. If you’re suffering with the below symptoms, it’s time to book an appointment with your GP, stat!

  • Mood swings much stronger than usual
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness
  • Intense anger and conflict with other people
  • Tension, anxiety, and irritability
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Appetite changes, fatigue and difficulty concentrating

PMS & PMDD Treatment

Treatment for PMS and PMDD are similar in terms of practicing self-care such as eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. You can see your GP for symptoms of PMS or PMDD, though for persistent and worsening emotional symptoms for those that have PMDD it’s advised to see a therapist. A professional in the behavioural field may recommend psychotropic medication to help with mood balancing.

Medical Disclaimer: Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask a medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.


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