PMS symptoms aren't exactly a joyride for many, but if they're disrupting your life and interfering with your plans, that's reason enough to call your doctor. While a medical professional is the only person who can give you a sure and confirmed diagnosis, severe PMS symptoms could be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
How Is PMDD Diagnosed?
If you're unfamiliar with PMDD, the Cleveland Clinic defines it as a "more serious form" of PMS. It's also worth noting that the cause of PMDD isn't yet fully understood, but differing responses in hormone fluctuations are one possible culprit.
While PMDD can be associated with many uncomfortable and common period-related symptoms (like headaches, cramps, and bloating), the healthcare organization notes that the condition usually presents itself with anxiety, depression, or extreme irritability.
As far as PMDD is typically diagnosed, Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that there aren't many diagnostic tests and screenings for this condition. In other words, when seeking answers for what's causing your irritability, there isn't one stand-alone PMDD test that your doctor can give you. Before a conclusion is drawn, the organization also notes, a certain amount of specific symptoms must be present over the course of a year and in most periods.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus, there might be certain tests given, like thyroid testing and a pelvic exam, to rule out other potential issues behind your symptoms.
As mentioned above, PMDD is greatly associated with several emotional symptoms — many of which are very serious and should not be ignored. A few examples include anxiety, moodiness, depression, crying spells, and suicidal thoughts.
When trying to find the root cause of your feelings, your doctor may also discuss your mental health history and screen for mood disorders. In fact, according to the UNC School of Medicine, around 40 percent of people who think they have PMDD and are searching for treatment for the condition actually have an underlying mood disorder that's exacerbated or worsened by PMS. When you have PMDD, the institution says, the emotional and mood-related symptoms should go away when your period starts.
How Is PMDD Treated?
Your treatment plan will depend on you as an individual, your healthcare practitioner, your symptoms, and your official diagnosis. Again, only you and your doctor should make these decisions together.
However, according to an article by the Mayo Clinic, treating PMDD is typically aimed at minimizing or preventing the associated symptoms. A variety of different methods may be used, including birth control, lifestyle changes, dietary and nutritional changes, herbal remedies, and antidepressants.
The Cleveland Clinic notes that speaking with a mental health professional may also be helpful in managing this condition. Once you've found the right treatment plan, the U.S. National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus notes, your symptoms may resolve or lower to a level that you can appropriately handle.
Any and every question is worth bringing up to your doctor, so if you feel any emotional or physical changes, be sure to speak with a healthcare or mental health professional.