PMS vs PMDD: What You Need to Know for Your Monthly Mental Health

Mar 202018

PMS-vs-PMDDPMS, or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, is one of the most common, medically-recognized issues for menstruating women. In fact, you’ve probably heard any number of female family members gripe about PMS before you even really knew what a period was. Symptoms of PMS usually involve some combination of mood swings, cramps, tenderness of the breasts, and bloating or other gastro-intestinal discomfort. While certainly annoying, most of us can still manage to get through the day, albeit with the help of a few aspirin or chocolate.

PMS has an ugly, evil step-sister you’ve probably never heard of: PMDD. Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder is like PMS in its core symptoms – physical discomfort and moodiness – but that’s where the similarities end. This monster of a bonafide psychiatric disorder was only recently added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If you’ve tried to get help for this confusing mental health issue in the past, you might have been slapped with a label of general depression, which is different from PMDD. Clinical depression can last for weeks or even months, while PMDD only presents itself around the time you’d normally get PMS.

PMDD is often caused by some of the same brain chemical-related issues as depression. Some doctors point to genetics and a sensitivity to allopregnanolone, a neurosteroid that can affect progesterone levels, and in turn neurotransmitters like serotonin. In short, when these chemicals are out of whack, your mood can seriously suffer.

We know you want to power through your period like the tough, goal-oriented babe that you are, but if you’re feeling like the world is coming to an end about a week before Aunt Flo visits, it might be time to see a doctor. We’ve explored some key differences between PMS and PMDD that can help in deciphering whether you’ve just got a nasty case of the monthly blues, or a serious medical condition in dire need of treatment.

Mood Swings vs Depression, Anger, & Anxiety

Typical PMS is bound to leave you riding an emotional rollercoaster. Those adopt-a-puppy advertisements might actually induce tears, and if your partner forgets to kiss you upon returning from work, it might feel more personal than forgetful. When you’ve got PMDD, calling your mental symptoms “mood swings” is an understatement.

An obnoxious acquaintance, usually moderately annoying the rest of the month, might send you into an outburst of rage. While trying to clean up a bit at home, you’re so overcome with feelings of sadness that you call it a night, skip dinner, and lie awake crying in bed. When you consider your future career, your usual go-getting attitude is replaced with so much fear and anxiety that quitting feels like a more rational choice. You might even have thoughts of ending your life, which is enough of a reason alone to seek professional help.

PMDD, much like other types of depression, consumes your entire mental state, and the symptoms are too strong to ignore. It will be almost impossible to feel like getting out of bed in the morning or doing something as simple as calling up your regular hair stylist for your 6-week trim. If you’re noticing that life’s daily tasks feel like climbing mountains, it’s probably time to visit your general practitioner for a referral to a psychiatrist.

Feeling Blue vs Giving Up on Your Passions

When you’re PMS-ing, your daily workout routine or even getting off the couch to take Fido for a walk might not seem that appetizing. You might skip running after work for a day or two, and ol’ Spot might be relegated to a few minutes in the backyard instead of an hour-long stroll. Down-sizing your usual go-to activities for health and happiness is fairly normal just before or during your period. However, if you suspect PMDD, you’ll notice a much more noticeable change in how you feel about your life.

Your usual passion for making jewelry may completely dry up, leading you to seriously consider dumping your crafting supplies in the trash. Visits to see a beloved niece or nephew, which usually bring instant cheer at the thought of those tiny hugs, can’t even get you to crack a smile. And even though things are going great at your dream job, you just can’t find a reason to keep up with your usual efforts. In fact, you feel like you might as well just give up on the thought of career satisfaction.

It’s Ok to Ask for Help

PMDD is going to make you feel like everything you once loved isn’t worth it anymore, and you might be so sad, angry, or anxious that it’s impossible to put any effort into life. And even when you do get that promotion or visit your little niece, you still don’t feel happy or even content. If your pre-menstrual symptoms are less simply annoying and more astronomically life-changing, don’t be afraid to talk to a friend, significant other, or trusted family member about taking the next steps to seek medical help. PMDD can be significantly reduced with medication, exercise, and other basic lifestyle changes that also work for general depression. Even if you’re down in the dumps now, never forget that you’re worth a happy, healthy life.


Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.


About the author:
Colleen Godin is a seasoned pleasure product professional and avid outdoors-woman (though rarely both at the same time). She has worked in the business of pleasure products since college. From the adult boutique counter to traveling the country for major toy manufacturers, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of sex toy design. All those years of hawking cheap vibrators have turned her attention to the luxury toy market, where she specializes in trends, tech, and good ethics.

INTIMINA Holiday Promotion

Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday – with 25% Off!

We at Intimina want to wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays the best way we know how – with a discount on all Intimina products! Whether you’re shopping for something to give one of your BFFs who is all about being environmentally-conscious, or you’re making good on your own New Year’s resolution to take better care of [...]

Read more »

Smoking woman's health

Smoke in Your Eyes: How Cigarettes Affect Intimate Health

Despite half a century of public anti-smoking efforts, tobacco remains the primary cause of preventable disease and death globally. Today, female smokers have caught up with their male counterparts as they face the same health consequences and some risks that tobacco has in store only for women. Usually, smoking habit starts in youth. In spite [...]

Read more »


What Makes Silicone Safe? A Look at What Exactly ‘Medical-Grade’ Means

Do you love your menstrual cup or personal massagers (or both!)? Do you also care about your health and safety? Assuming you answered ‘yes’ both these questions (because really, who wouldn’t?) then it’s time to strap in, because we’re about to talk about something super important that has to do with all of these: silicone. [...]

Read more »


Why Do We Shave? The Surprising History of Women & Hair Removal

It seems like no matter where you are, women are shaving everything from the neck down. But it’s no modern phenomenon–some archaeologists believe that body hair removal was embraced by cavewomen. So how did we get from scraping our body hair off with a sharp rock in a cave to today’s pretty pink shavers and [...]

Read more »


How Feminist Freedom Fighters Changed the Face of Sexual Health

For a pill the size of a pinhead, hormonal birth control has moved some serious mountains. A historical pillar of women’s sexual freedom and health rights, “the pill” helped shape the face of modern medicine, gender roles, and attitudes toward sex. As easy, affordable access to birth control comes under fire in political circles, we’re [...]

Read more »


Myths About Hymens We’re Ready to Forget Once & For All

Today, we don’t even want to touch the whole concept of virginity (seriously, it’s pretty easy to poke holes into, pun semi-intended) but we do want to address some of the major misconceptions surrounding hymens – what they are, what they do, and why society’s obsession with them is wack. So What is a Hymen? [...]

Read more »


Stay Hydrated, Stay Healthy: Tips for Upping Your Daily Dose of H2O

Considering that planet Earth’s surface is composed of around 71% water, and the adult human body is made of more than half H2O – 60% to be exact – you’d think it would be a little easier to stay hydrated. In a fast-paced culture of sports drinks, soda, and coffee, water doesn’t exactly have the [...]

Read more »


Cheers to Your Health: New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

There’s nothing that makes you feel like you ought to set some New Year’s resolutions quite like the week between December 25th and 31st – it’s a weird limbo period where no one knows exactly what time it is, but we’re more than happy to eat more turkey leftovers and Christmas chocolate. Many people focus [...]

Read more »

Your Guide to PCOS: What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

If you’ve ever experienced intense cramping, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or cramps that have been so intense they’ve left you unable to to attend work or school, PCOS – or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may be the culprit. It affects 8-20% of menstruators worldwide and is unfortunately one of the leading causes of infertility if left [...]

Read more »


UTIs – What They Really Are & How to Avoid Them

If you have a vulva and have heterosexual penetrative sex, chances are you’ve experienced the dreaded UTI, or Urinary Tract Infection. While that sexual activity is not the only way to get a UTI, it is one of the most common, and in fact, UTIs are an extremely common ailment that will affect most women [...]

Read more »

  • Sign Up. It's Rewarding!
  • Join our newsletter list today.
  • Enjoy 10% off your first order.
  • *Email address
  •  Birthday
  • *Required field
      View our terms and conditions
INTIMINA uses cookies to improve our service to the customer. By continuing to browse our site, you agree to our use of cookies detailed here . ACCEPT