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My Experience With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Updated on February 8, 2015

PMDD is short for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It is a severe form of PMS. Both PMS and PMDD are characterized by unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms that occur in the second half of a woman's menstrual cycle, most commonly in the days preceding the menstrual period. Fatigue, mood changes, irritability, and abdominal bloating are among the most common symptoms of PMS and PMDD, but numerous other symptoms have been reported. Whereas the symptoms of PMS may be troubling and unpleasant, PMDD may cause severe, debilitating symptoms that interfere with a woman's ability to function.

PMS is much more common than PMDD. PMS may affect to 30% of women with regular menstrual cycles, while only 3% to 8% of these women have true PMDD.

PMDD has been previously medically referred to as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder.

What causes it?

Although the precise cause of PMS and PMDD is unknown, it is believed that these conditions result from the interaction of hormones produced by the ovaries at different stages in the menstrual cycle (such as estrogen and progesterone) with the neurotransmitters (chemicals that serve as messengers) in the brain. While the ovarian hormone levels are normal in women with PMDD, it is likely that the brain's response to these normally-fluctuating hormone levels is abnormal.

Most evidence suggests that PMS and PMDD do not result from any specific personality traits or personality types. While stress clearly is associated with PMS and PMDD, it is not considered to be a cause of PMDD. Rather, the associated stress is more likely to be a result of the symptoms of PMS or PMDD. Vitamin or other nutritional deficiencies have not been shown to cause PMS or PMDD.

Source: About PMDD- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Have you experienced severe PMS or PMDD?

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My Experience with PMDD and What Happened

Over twenty years ago, at the age of sixteen, I was feeling desperate. I was suddenly experiencing very irritable and angry feelings for no reason, and some depression which got worse over time.

I was diagnosed manic depressive/ bipolar but I’ve wondered over the years why because mania is usually exhibited with not only agitation but with feelings of euphoria or elation including going on spending sprees, feeling invincible, and feeling overly sexual or hyper sexual which is not being able to control your sexual impulses- none of which did I have. I had $1600 in the bank and was not sexually active.

About a few years ago, I happened to hear about PMDD on hubpages and then a friend told me more about it.

I ran across the Doctor/Psychiatrist who diagnosed me 20 years ago last May 2013, during my last hospitalization at the same initial hospital.

I questioned him and told him I believed I had PMDD, and that I had recently been tracking my symptoms around my periods.

He said he didn’t know what Pmdd was. He stated to me, "Bipolar people are really nasty and mean.” He said he was convinced I was bipolar.

I don’t think I’m a nasty and mean person, but maybe my irritability came across that way, though I had not hurt anyone- just rebelled with my dad. I could not get far with that- believe you me! He’s not tolerant of any rebellious behavior. Either way, it’s good I got help, but was it the right help?

I was on Lithium, a mood stabilizer for bipolar, for twenty years. After I started taking Lamictal though, (I was taken off Lithium as Lamictal worked better for me and my body was no longer tolerating lithium.) For the first time in 20 yrs I was not irritable everyday. Lithium made me worse actually now that I look back of course.

After getting off lithium, I noticed I wasn’t irritable as often and the delusions or strange conclusions I had previously come to on a regular basis from overanalyzing, had stopped. People online than had known me and friends in real life noticed I had changed greatly and liked the "new me". Lithium had made me worse. But what I noticed after getting off it, was I felt very rageful, irritable, depressed and suicidal (and paranoid ) 2 weeks BEFORE my period.

My doctor refused to prescribe me Effexor which is (as I looked up online) the BEST medicine for PMDD. It’s actually an antidepressant and when you’re said to be bipoar, doctors worry you’ll get manic being on an antidepressant.

Well, needless to say, after experiencing months of torturous cycles (every two weeks before my menstruation- which I tracked on my calendar), I was fed up and worn out from Pmdd! I was so desperate, I agreed to take lithium again, which I had gotten off of, 15 months before. (Bad choice, as my brother Joe told me later, and I whole heartedly agree, but what was I to do? My doctor refused me Effexor.)

But later on, I discovered that Depakote works even better for me than Effexor. I've been on Depakote for a year and two months. I tracked my period moods for one whole year and the longer I was on Depakote, the less symptoms I had.

PMDD Chart

In order to accurately assess your premenstrual symptoms, it is important for us to review the pattern of your symptoms over time.

After you complete 2 months of charting, you should call your gynecologist to set up your first appointment. (You may want to call and make your appt. ahead of time considering most appointments are made 1-3 weeks in advance.)


1. Beginning tracking your premenstrual symptoms with this chart today, filling it out

every day (preferably at the end of your day) until your appointment.

A full menstrual cycle (28 – 40 days) of charting will allow for a more accurate assessment.

2. When you have menstrual bleeding, mark this with

an “X” in the “Menses” column. When you have “spotting” (very light bleeding),

mark this with an “S” in the “Menses” column. When you are not bleeding, leave the “menses” column empty for that day.

3. Every day, rate what you have experienced under ALL of the column headings. Do not look at your ratings from the previous day,

(covering previous ratings with another piece of paper is helpful) so that you rate each day

individually – do not rate your day’s experience compared to yesterday or previous days.

RATING SCALE: Not at all = 0 Mild = 1 Moderate = 2 Severe = 3

Sleep = rate severity and note increase with “↑” and decrease with “↓”

Appetite = rate severity and note increase with “↑” and decrease with “↓”

Physical Symptoms = symptoms like headache, bloating, cramping, backache, breast tenderness


How to track your menstrual symptoms monthly

(click column header to sort results)
Depressed Mood
Mood Swings
Lack of Interest
Difficulty Concentrating
Lack of energy
Physical Symptoms
Day 1
Day 2

Bipolar and PMDD had similar symptoms and can be confused one for the other or you could have both

I hope this hub helps with the information provided and with my own personal story, perhaps it might even help doctors in the future from understanding the difference between bipolar and pmdd. Since pmdd is not much talked about by many doctors, I hope to raise awareness to it and maybe in the future some women may find out about it earlier than I.

The good part is that I finally am on the right medication and that it is helping me greatly so that I am living a very functional life, much better than I have since I was sixteen. I'm happy that there are treatments for it, and I also know that things like exercise, healthy diet, and lots of vitamins help. I take a multivitamin which all people should do in my opinion, and also fish oil. I'm sure I'll learn more about it in times to come and I'll be sure to post what I learn to be even more helpful.


I stated above that I've been on Depakote for a year and 2 months. This is my "miracle medicine". I feel 100% better. I am peaceful and I am enjoying life and not dealing with suicidal depressions anymore or rage.

Professional Advice for Pmdd

One's woman story!


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    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      21 months ago

      Someone previously commented they thought I had bipolar and not pmdd. I have since believed I have both.

      Anyways, I know this article is helpful, so I have kept it up!

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      22 months ago


      Just thinking again, of your comment. I never heard that bipolar II was worse during periods. maybe something I should talk to my doctor about. Hmmmmm

      They should be informing people about that, right? If that's the case? I'll have to do research.

      Like I said though, with the depakote I am good. also, last year to lose weight, I was on tegretol instead of depakote for a year and lost 30 pounds.

      The tegretol was pretty good for pms as well. (I think lamictal was the only one not good for pms.)

      But the tegretol made me get manic again, as it was not effective enough in the long run.

      I am feeling better back on depakote, minus the 30 pounds. And now I know how to keep weight off, which I'll write about in my next hub.

      Regardless of whether I personally have pmdd, or not, I'm keeping this hub up, so it will help those who do! And for those who have it along with bipolar, etc.


    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Hi Kristy,

      You may be right, I'm not a doctor, but I was told I had hypomania. I wish my doctors told me that bipolar could get worse around my period, I did not know that. I used to get more sick around that time and at the time didn't know why. Yes- depakote is my wonder drug along with seroquel it seems...Unfortunately they cause weight gain and make it seem impossible to lose weight but at least I can now function.

      I wish doctors knew more and told me more but I am grateful now that I am finally feeling better.

    • profile image

      Kristy Orum 

      4 years ago

      It sounds like you have bipolar II. In bipolar II you have hypomania not mania. It is not as severe as mania. There is also something that happens when you have a disorder like bipolar where symptoms are exacerbated by your menstrual cycles. If depakote is your wonder drug than it definitely sounds more like bipolar II exacerbated by your menstrual cycle than PMDD. Just my two cents.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Jo,

      Hmm, Well, you don't have to feel that things will be this way forever, because the longer you are aware, and work on improving your symptoms by 1) being aware when they will be by keeping track 2) getting a good medicine--- I am taking new meds now as of 1/1/14 and I feel better than I have in 22 YEARS!!!! I can tell you, I have more friends NOW than I have ever had in my life. If you give it time, and work at this----your life can improve dramatically---and your relationships Too!!

      So, be patient with yourself. In time you can apologize to those who you've offended--if they let you--and try out the new you. It won't be super easy but as least now you know. and that s a step in the right direction.

      I just finished my 3rd book.

      I believe God has a special plan for all of us-- and I hope you will share this info as well.

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your experience as well. Remember---if the relationships were really true ones, you'll get them back.



    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I've lost friends and made enemies during my hormonal rage. I thought I was only experiencing PMS. I only knew about PPMD 2 days ago after googgling it and asking questions on the Internet. Now I'm feeling more upset knowing that I will turn into a monster temporarily every month. Friends say I'm moody and sensitive person which I don't agree. Now I know that I'm only that way during the 1-2 weeks before my period. I can be extremely angry with something which I usually ignore during my normal days. So mostly for me relationships ruined and it's sad.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you Charu, that is a wonderful comment and I appreciate it very much. I'm very glad this hub helped you. I recommend if you work, to get a job that doesn't require a lot of customer/people interaction. I am a people person but not when I feel like this. I like jobs like housekeeping at a hotel or office work. But all in all, life is worth living. Because for me, I have been spiritual since a young age, and I find that pain can bring you closer to God and also you can make your pain useful by offering it up as a prayer for your intentions or to help others. That's my belief and it has gotten me thru my darkest days. God bless you. Thanks for reading! Hugs!


    • Charu Bhatnagar profile image

      Charu Bhatnagar 

      6 years ago from India

      Hello, I am so glad that I came across this hub. This information was completely new to me. I am sure like me, most women do know about PMS. but there was something like PMDD, was a total surprise! Your story is touching and at the same time inspirational, yes! For me you are truly a brave woman, diagnosing your symptoms, not giving up and a long fight for the right treatment/medicine. I am happy, at last you are living a happy life; and I pray the same for all the women who maybe suffering as a result of this syndrome. the chart you gave is very useful.

      I was actually trying to recognize any kind of similar symptom in me, considering I have Thyroid problem. and due to it I am already prone to chronic depression, even though when I get the right dosage, I should feel better. but still, there are days when I feel very angry, upset, full on rage on my family and friends, sometimes I'm very-2 depressed; so much so this life seems worthless!Thanks again for this wonderful hub, and for sharing your story with us.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you Rolly, I appreciate it, it was 'hell on earth' but being the spiritual person that you know I am, it has helped me from the beginning....I also appreciate you stating the fact it is not well known, (even more so than my other hubs about mental illness and bipolar, anxiety, etc---) Thank you for the compliment of being insightful! My dad told me I was when I was little!

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Rose... so glad you were able to get the help you have found and are doing better. It sounds like it was a very difficult journey and certainly something we know very little about. Your writing has been very insightful... stay true to what is working for you and remember to love yourself...

      Hugs and Blessings



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