6 Signs It May Be More Than PMS
If you’re a woman, this probably sounds familiar. One week out of every month, you find yourself crying more than usual. You have to refrain from snapping at your co-workers. You constantly crave chocolate.
Experts tell women these are just side effects of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. But if you find yourself in a serious emotional funk that goes so far as to disrupt your work and relationships, you may have PMS’s debilitating cousin, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). And if the blues continue even after your period, they could be a sign of depression or bipolar disorder.
What is PMDD?
While about 75% of women have at least mild premenstrual symptoms, only about 5% have symptoms severe enough to quality for PMDD, says M. Beatriz Currier, MD, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. No one knows exactly what causes either PMS or PMDD, but figuring out whether you have PMDD can help you ease its effects. Most women with PMDD have found relief through diet, exercise, and rest.
If these six symptoms describe how you’re feeling, you may have more than PMS.
Your symptoms are all emotional
You experience debilitating depression
"Some women will say they’re really, really impossible the week before their period, but when you start probing into their energy, appetite, and sleep conditions, they tell you they never really get back to their old self," explains Dr. Currier. "That could mean patients have a baseline depression that gets worse during their premenstrual time."
You're extremely irritable, anxious, and cry easily
If your annoyance level rises to the point where you’re lashing out at your family or co-workers, you may have moved beyond PMS. And while you may be weepier than usual before your period, you shouldn’t be concerned unless you are regularly crying over nothing.
You feel easily overwhelmed and out of control
"I’ve even had a couple of patients tell me in tears that the week before their period was when they were most apt to scream ator even think about hurtingtheir children," Dr. Sulak adds. "They get to the point where they feel completely out of control."
You have problems concentrating
The duration of your symptoms
But if the symptoms aren't necessarily in sync with your period, generalized anxiety disorder or depression may be to blame. "If the bad stuff is going on all month long," says Dr. Sulak, "there’s something other than PMS going on."