Keep reading to find out more about the difference between PMS and PMDD, and what you can do to relieve the symptoms.
What is PMS? "Premenstrual Syndrome, commonly referred to as PMS, describes the pattern of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that occurred one to two weeks earlier and remittent at the onset of the menses," Dr. told. Jessica Shepherd, OB / GYN, to CNET. "PMS is common, affecting 30-80% of women of reproductive age," Shepherd said.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can include a wide range of signs and symptoms, including mood swings, sensitive breasts, appetite, fatigue, irritability, and depression. An estimated 3 out of 4 menstruating women have experienced a form of PMS.
The cause of PMS is usually attributed to hormonal imbalances or changes in hormones that occur in the body prior to a period. Changes also occur chemically in the brain, which can be the cause of many of the mood-related symptoms.
PMS can also include many physical symptoms, including muscle pain, bloating, acne and digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea.  What is PMDD? "Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome and is characterized by significant premenstrual mood disorders, often with more prominent mood reactivity and irritability," Dr. said. Shepherd. "The mood disorders result in a clear social limitation."
So if your pre-menstrual symptoms set you aside for days, causing you to miss work, school, or have you do things that you would not normally want to do, your symptoms may require more advanced treatment. Further, according to Mayo Clinic, to classify as PMDD, at least one of the various symptoms must be present. "In PMDD, however, at least one of these emotional and behavioral symptoms is noticeable: sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, extreme moodiness, obvious irritability or anger."
The relationship between PMDD and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
Because mood and behavioral symptoms are part of the reason why PMDD is so painful, it makes sense that there is a relationship with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to Mayo Clinic, it is common for someone who already has depression or anxiety to also experience PMDD. In fact, the hormonal changes that occur naturally in the body before menstruation may exacerbate the symptoms of mood disorders, which is important to consider if you have a diagnosed condition such as anxiety or depression.
It is important to note that for a PMDD diagnosis, mood and behavioral symptoms may only take place about two weeks prior to your period. Dr. Andrea Chisholm stresses in an article for Harvard Medical School the importance of noting the timing of the onset of your symptoms and when they decide for your doctor to make a diagnosis. If your symptoms occur for a longer period or during the month, you may still have PMS or PMDD, but you may also need to be checked for a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression.
What can you do to manage PMS or PMDD?
One action you can take to manage your symptoms is to start following your cycle with an app or smartwatch. "Tracking cycles can help by knowing when moods can change and by finding ways to change these mood swings," Dr. said. Shepherd. With different time tracking apps such as My Flo and Clue you can not only keep track of the days of your cycle, but also important symptoms and mood swings.
In addition to keeping track of your symptoms, you can also use diet, lifestyle, and exercise to control the symptoms. Some dietary changes that may help include eating smaller, more frequent meals, limiting salty foods, and trying to include more complex carbohydrates (such as fruits and vegetables over processed carbohydrates such as bread or pasta). You can also eat more calcium-rich foods because calcium has been shown to help improve the symptoms of PMS. Limiting alcohol and caffeine can also help.
Regular exercise can also be helpful for overall health and for preventing and controlling symptoms such as tiredness and depressive feelings. Aside from exercise and diet, you can also work on managing stress and getting more sleep to control your symptoms.
If lifestyle interventions do not help, doctors can use a variety of treatments or medicines to help. Some medicines commonly used to treat PMS and PMDD include antidepressants, NSAIDs, diuretics, and hormonal contraceptives. "There is a strong theory that fluctuations in circulating estrogen and progesterone have clear effects on central neurotransmission, particularly serotonergic, noradrenergic and dopaminergic pathways. This is important because there are certain drugs that can help regulate these pathways and possibly mood swings to minimize "Dr. Shepherd.
When should you see a doctor? "If a person thinks they have PMS or PMDD, it is important to talk to a doctor so that other diagnoses can be excluded," Dr. advised. Shepherd. Again, if you suspect you have PMDD, experience PMS, or have mood symptoms that occur around your period (or at any time during the month), it is best to consult a doctor so that you can make the right diagnosis and treatment to get.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.