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Q: What is the difference between PMS and PMDD? 

Dr. Donnica:
The physical symptom list is identical for PMS and PMDD. While the emotional symptoms are similar, they are significantly more serious with PMDD. In PMDD, the criteria focus on the mood rather than the physical symptoms. With PMS, sadness or mild depression is not uncommon.   With PMDD, however, significant depression and hopelessness may occur. In extreme cases, women may feel like killing themselves or others. Attributing suicidal or homicidal feelings to "it's just PMS" is inappropriate; these feelings must be taken as seriously as they are in anyone else and should be promptly brought to the attention of mental health professionals.

Women who have a history of depression are at increased risk for PMDD.  Similarly, women who have had PMDD are at increased risk for depression after menopause. In simplest terms, the difference between PMS and PMDD can be likened to the difference between a mild headache and a migraine.

Click here for more information on PMDD.

Click here for more information about depression or other mental health issues.

Created: 11/28/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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