PMS vs. PMDD: What’s the difference?

PMS vs. PMDD: What’s the difference?

PMS vs. PMDD: What’s the difference?

Written by Keren Guevara

Is your monthly PMS actually PMDD?

People who menstruate experience a series of symptoms prior and during their menstrual cycle, which they often believe to be PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome. However, many of these symptoms, especially severe cases of cramps and mood swings for instance, may actually be a case of PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. 

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) often get mistaken for one another, as their symptoms are alike in many ways. These include physical and emotional changes in the days before a period cycle. The symptoms occur each month in both conditions, but PMDD is more severe and far rarer than PMS.

What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is the name for both the emotional and physical symptoms people can experience in the days leading up to their menstruation. 

This is often noted by depression, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and crying spells. It may also show up as angry outbursts, irritability, social withdrawal, poor concentration, and changes in sexual desire. 

Thirst and appetite changes, breast tenderness, headaches, bloating and weight gain, swelling of the hands or feet, aches and pains, and fatigue, are just some physical symptoms of PMS.

PMS generally starts one to two weeks before a menstrual period, but goes away once the period begins. Though most people who menstruate experience PMS symptoms, experts still cannot pin down the exact cause. Experts believe that fluctuating hormones may be responsible. A person’s sensitivities to these fluctuations may determine if they experience PMS or even PMDD.

How is PMS treated?

Fortunately, PMS isn’t as life-altering as PMDD. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, PMS can get better with lifestyle or dietary changes. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise like running, walking, or swimming on a regular basis can help lessen fatigue and depression.

Finding ways to relax and reduce stress also helps. Relaxation can be anything from breathing exercises to meditation to yoga!

However, if your symptoms are severe, an OB-GYN may suggest medication.

What is PMDD?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), on the other hand, is a severe extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that causes extreme mood shifts which can disrupt daily lives and damage relationships.

Like PMS, PMDD can make someone feel nervous, angry, irritable, or anxious. Physical symptoms such as fatigue, strong cravings for food, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint and muscle pain are also symptoms of PMDD.

But with PMDD, the emotional symptoms are more severe. These can also be worse some months compared to others. Often, PMDD makes a person feel unlike themselves, and that there is no easy way to feel better.

How is PMDD treated?

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To be diagnosed with PMDD, a person must experience at least five PMDD symptoms, including a mood-related symptom. 

Affective, or psychological, symptoms include:

  • mood swings
  • sudden sadness
  • increased sensitivity to rejection
  • anger
  • irritability
  • sense of hopelessness
  • self-critical thoughts
  • tension
  • anxiety
  • depressed mood
  • suicidal thoughts

Physical and behavioral symptoms include:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • change in appetite, food cravings, and overeating
  • diminished interest in usual activities
  • easily tired and decreased energy
  • feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • breast tenderness
  • bloating
  • weight gain
  • joint or muscle aches
  • sleeping too much or not sleeping enough

If you recognize yourself in any of these symptoms, reach out to a Kindred OBGYN. Kindred Doctors personalize your care plan, especially for you. Your treatment will depend on how severe your symptoms are. With a Kindred doctor, you can be sure that you’re  receiving the right treatment.

It may also be helpful to speak to a Kindred psychologist about your PMDD symptoms and the ways it disrupts your daily life.


Book a consult with a Kindred Doctor

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Kindred doctors are professional, licensed experts who can help you diagnose, manage, and treat your PMS or PMDD symptoms. Kindred provides holistic healthcare designed for women, powered by women. Take charge of your health and book a consultation today!

Use the code HALIAFLOW upon checkout for 15% OFF on your first consultation on Kindred!

Book a consultation with a Kindred Doctor today.



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