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Most women know about PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), but have you heard of PMDD? 

PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) is a more significant, severe type of PMS that affects up to 10% of menstruators! It is an under-diagnosed, less known, but common condition that occurs in the luteal phase of our cycle, measured between ovulation and the first day of our period.

As menstruators, we often normalize PMS symptoms, although there can be debilitating levels of them.

PMDD is diagnosed with having at least 5 of the following 11 symptoms, that interfere with our daily activities and has occurred for most cycles over the last 1 year.

Symptoms include:

  • Mood swings including low mood/sadness, depression, despair, and thoughts of suicide
  • Increased sensitivity and irritability
  • Anger and rage
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and high tension feelings
  • Fatigue issues
  • Concentration issues and problems focussing
  • Feelings of being out of control or overwhelmed
  • Anhedonia or lack of interest in usual activities and even relationships
  • Physical symptoms including increased bloating, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, and breast tenderness
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Binge eating & cravings or loss of appetite

It can feel hopeless to experience such significant symptoms EVERY MONTH. However there is a reason WHY this is occurring. There are many theories, and the benefits of Naturopathic Medicine are to help you determine why this is occurring in your body, and how to treat it.

The Cause of PMDD

There are 4 theories that exist on why PMDD occurs in women.

ONE is based on HORMONAL IMBALANCES – Some people have irregular responses to normal hormonal changes in the body, and this increased sensitivity creates the symptoms. Others may have low estrogen levels, that can create a relative progesterone dominance resulting in significant symptoms. Another imbalance can be in testosterone metabolites interfering with progesterone production. So looking into estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels can be a useful tool.

The SECOND theory is based on NEUROTRANSMITTERS and either dysfunction at a receptor level, or a deficiency in some of these major neurotransmitters that act on our brain. One is serotonin & 5HTP; our happy mood supportive hormone. The other is GABA, a common inhibitory neurotransmitter that is calming to the nervous system. These can be used as treatments for PMDD.

THIRDLY, looking into impaired INFLAMMATION PATHWAYS, as more of a heightened immune & inflammation response can lead to worsening of premenstrual symptoms.

FOURTH and final is NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES, as research has shown links to vitamin D deficiency, as well as calcium & magnesium deficiency. Testing and correcting these can be a very vital tool.

All in all, there are many reasons WHY this could be occurring, but the beauty of naturopathic medicine is we have the ability to determine what the cause is and treat it accordingly with many of our different modalities.

Does this sound like you? Reach out today to investigate your PMDD symptoms and help get yourself feeling back on track!

Dr. Shannon McGuire

About Dr. Shannon McGuire

Dr. Shannon McGuire is a naturopathic physician with a practice focus in digestion, hormones, autoimmunity, sleep & stress. She is proud to be practicing in her hometown of Kelowna and has a passion in helping her community in optimizing their health.