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PMDD: How to do a Self Diagnosis

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).

  • Mood swings

  • 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.


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