According to the Mayo Clinic, a lot of people with PMDD are self-diagnosed, so it’s likely if you’re figuring out your PMDD path that you’re doing a lot of research on your own.
In an effort to make it easy, here’s the breakdown of the diagnostic criteria for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Bottom line: A PMDD diagnosis requires the right combination of symptoms, timing and severity.
Look for at least 5 of the following symptoms in the week to 10 days before you bleed, and obvious relief once your period starts. Symptoms are often absent during other parts of the month — although people experience symptoms around every hormone fluctuation throughout the month.
There are lots of fun clues that you have PMDD, like wanting to break up with your boyfriend every 28 days or rage-quitting your job and regretting it later. Here are the typical symptoms of PMDD, which show up in the luteal phase (the phase between ovulation and the first day of your period, aka days 14-28 in a typical 28 day cycle).
Feeling suddenly sad or tearful
Increased sensitivity to rejection
Marked irritability or anger or increased interpersonal conflicts
Markedly depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts
Marked anxiety, tension, and/or feelings of being keyed up or on edge
Those main symptoms are usually paired with:
Decreased interest in usual activities
Subjective difficulty in concentration
Lethargy, sleepiness, marked lack of energy
Marked change in appetite; overeating or specific food cravings
Hypersomnia or insomnia
A sense of being overwhelmed or out of control
Physical symptoms such as breast tenderness or swelling; joint or muscle pain, a sensation of “bloating” or weight gain
Even if you’ve got those symptoms, a PMDD diagnoses includes an assessment of how severely those symptoms interrupt your life. When you’re considering your own diagnosis, ask yourself if you experience:
Clinically significant distress
Interference with work
Disruption at school
A struggle with social activities
Challenging relationships with others.
I've Got All That — Now What?
Use a chart like this to track your symptoms for at least two cycles. If you’re pretty sure you’re experiencing PMDD, find a GP or a nurse practitioner who understands. It’s a very common experience, with more than 3 million cases in the U.S. per year.