While premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a fairly common occurrence for people before they get their periods, the extreme premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is more rare. And new research shows that the reason people suffer from PMDD is because of genetics. Although this isn’t necessarily good news, it does mean that the medical community and people with it will be able to have a better understanding of PMDD.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers reported on January 3rd that women who have PMDD have a more extreme response to sex hormones on a molecular level.
“We found dysregulated expression in a suspect gene complex which adds to evidence that PMDD is a disorder of cellular response to estrogen and progesterone,” explained Peter Schmidt, M.D. of NIH.
What that means is that women who have PMDD may have genetics to blame for their different molecular responses to sex hormones.
That’s not very encouraging since the symptoms of PMDD not only include what normally occurs during PMS — like bloating, cramps, fatigue, and headaches — but the change in mood that you experience with PMDD is more significant.
Many women feel anxious, irritable, depressed, or moody with PMS, but those feelings with PMDD are more severe and potentially debilitating. While it still follows the cyclic pattern of PMS, PMDD acts more like depression and anxiety. PMDD has even been misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder in the past.
It also makes PMDD a more legitimate disease in the medical community. As Dr. Schmidt’s colleague David Goldman, M.D. told Broadly, “This new research, pointing to molecular causation, further helps put PMDD on the same footing as other medical diseases.”
In his statement to NIH, Dr. Goldman said:
“This is a big moment for women’s health, because it establishes that women with PMDD have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones – not just emotional behaviors they should be able to voluntarily control.”
If you suffer from extreme PMS and think it may be PMDD, consult with your physician on ways to treat the disorder. And while we now know that PMDD can’t be avoided, at least the newly discovered cause of it can help us take care of ourselves correctly in the future.