Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

Posted: February 01, 2017 by Kristen Genzano

I feel out of control!
My emotions are way out of whack.
I have no desire to do anything.
I have no energy and cannot seem to get enough sleep.
I feel incredibly anxious for no reason. I’m just so sensitive.

If these are thoughts you’ve had or observations loved ones have made about you, it’s possible you’re struggling with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Isn’t this just PMS? Doesn’t everyone feel this way?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a common experience for the majority of women. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, 60% of women suffer from PMS. PMDD is considered an extension of PMS that leaves women who suffer from it unable to function in their day-to-day life. One of the defining characteristics of PMDD is the impact it has on a woman’s daily life. Some women experience severely strained relationships. Others struggle with decreased productivity at work or school. And still other women completely avoid social activities. Both PMS and PMDD are likely to be accompanied by other emotional challenges such as depression or anxiety.

What are the symptoms of PMDD?

Although they can vary in frequency and duration from woman to woman, symptoms of PMDD may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Extreme sadness or tearfulness
  • Irritability or anger
  • Increased conflict
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling anxious or edgy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Change in appetite
  • Sense of being overwhelmed

How can I cope with PMDD?

Often symptoms of PMDD are connected to underlying emotional and psychological problems not being addressed. The body may be communicating to you that something is out of balance.

Several methods of treatment exist for PMDD including:

  • Changes in diet, such as reducing caffeine, alcohol, and salt intake
  • Stress reduction including meditation & yoga
  • Daily exercise
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Hormonal treatments such as birth control

It’s important to remember that just like any other illness that impacts the entire person, PMS and PMDD are complex. What works well for one woman may not work for another.

If you think you may be suffering from PMDD, talk to your gynecologist about how to track your cycle and consider seeking emotional support from a counselor.

Tags: mood and feelings

Kristen Genzano (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor


I focus on Women's Issues including Infertility, Postpartum, Childfree Women, Female Entrepreneurs, Mother/Daughter Relationships, & more.

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Personal Growth, Postpartum, Pregnancy (Prenatal Mental Health), Premarital Counseling, Women's Issues