How can you tell if you have PMS or PMDD?

My Hormonology

How can you tell if you have PMS or PMDD?


Do bothersome symptoms (such as mood changes and greater pain) crop up on the days leading to your period, but you’re not sure if it means you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?

There’s an easy way to figure it out–by examining the intensity of symptoms and possibly the length of time your symptoms persist.

My Hormonology

Here’s how it breaks down:

If you have premenstrual symptoms (such as sadness, irritability, aches, lousy sleep, tiredness) that are annoying, but do not interfere with everyday life and pop up primarily during the six days before your period, this is PMS. You could have mild, moderate or even severe symptoms of PMS. But, if you’re still pretty much going on with your life, you do not have suicidal thoughts or actions, and your pain/insomnia/mood issues are manageable, this is still PMS.

If you have premenstrual symptoms that are intense (such as, but not limited to, depression, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, extreme anger, unbearable pain, insomnia and/or debilitating fatigue), these symptoms do interfere with everyday life and they impact you anywhere from the day after ovulation through the day before your period, then you likely have PMDD. This is a medical condition that’s estimated to impact up to 1 in 8 of us with menstrual cycles and is believed to be due to extra sensitivity to fluctuating hormones.

While both PMS and PMDD symptoms can be eased with stress-reducing techniques (such as yoga and meditation), exercise, a nutritious diet and good sleep, those with PMDD typically also require the support of a healthcare team. You may want to try prescription medicine, cognitive behavioral therapy, holistic treatments and/or other remedies. But, whatever you choose, it’s important to get health support to help manage this condition.

It’s equally important to get peer support from others challenged by PMDD. Please visit the following groups if you or a loved one has PMDD:

International Association for Premenstrual Disorders
Integrative Institute for Premenstrual Disorders
Vicious Cycle

If you suspect someone has PMDD, but that person is unaware, please bring it up to that person and discuss it. Your talk could change their life.

Never miss a Hormonology tip!
Subscribe to the free Hormonology newsletter:
I’d love to learn more–sign me up!

Learn how the hormones in your menstrual cycle impact you every day in my book, 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Moods, Health & Potential


Follow me