Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- Some mild physical symptoms can be treated at home.
- Try OTC medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and certain supplements.
When you may need a provider
- For mental health symptoms, such as depression and anxiety
- Symptoms are moderate to severe
- If you have thoughts or plans of hurting yourself, call 911 or 988 (the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline).
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When to see a healthcare provider
You should consider seeing a healthcare provider for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) if you still have bloating, cramps, and mood swings after trying home care. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor if your symptoms are moderate to severe or are interfering with your life. This may be particularly important if you have intense feelings of anger, irritability, and mood changes.
They may prescribe birth control pills, which stabilize hormone levels, or antidepressants to improve your mood. Talk therapy may be recommended to help you with your symptoms.
Getting diagnosed for premenstrual dysphoric disorder
PMDD is diagnosed based on your symptoms. If you have five or more symptoms of PMDD (such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating), as well as one mood-related symptom (depression, anxiety, etc), you may have PMDD.
Symptoms of PMDD can be similar to other conditions, such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and thyroid problems. Your doctor may do a mood screening test or order blood tests to rule them out.
What to expect from your doctor visit
The most effective approach is to combine medications with talk therapy, exercise, and other lifestyle approaches that can improve your mood.
- Doctors often first try treating PMDD with birth control pills, which help regulate hormonal changes.
- You may be prescribed antidepressants.You can take them every day or start midway through your menstrual cycle (14 days before your period starts). Discuss with your doctor what’s best for you.
- It may be helpful to see a mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talk therapy that can help you manage your symptoms.
Prescription PMDD medications
- Oral contraceptive pills
- Antidepressants such as SSRIs. These include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), or escitalopram (Lexapro).
- Prescription-strength pain relievers such as ibuprofen
- Muscle relaxers like methocarbamol (Robaxin) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
Types of PMDD providers
- A primary care provider can treat mild to moderate symptoms.
- An OB-GYN is a doctor who specializes in women’s health.
- Psychologists or clinical social workers provide talk therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors specializing in psychiatric disorders. They can prescribe medication and some may offer therapy.
How to help premenstrual dysphoric disorder at home
You may be able to treat some of the physical symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), such as cramps and bloating, with self-care. PMDD treatments include OTC medications, supplements, and lifestyle changes. You may need to see a healthcare provider for some of the cognitive and emotional symptoms like depression or anxiety.
- OTC anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). These should start to work within 20–30 minutes.
- There are also medications that combine pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) with other ingredients that treat bloating, such as caffeine, antihistamines, and diuretics. Examples are Midol and Pamprin.
- Some natural remedies for PMDD include calcium and magnesium supplements, and the chasteberry herb.
Why is self-care an essential component to treating PMDD?
Lifestyle changes can help relieve physical and mood symptoms. Examples include exercise, relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation), placing a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine, and getting enough sleep. Making changes to your diet, such as avoiding salty food, can also help
See a healthcare provider or mental health professional if home treatments aren’t working, or your symptoms are moderate to severe or are disrupting your life.
What types of OTC medications are used to treat PMDD?
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Acetaminophen/pyrilamine (Midol)
- Acetaminophen/pamabrom/pyrilamine (Pamprin)
- Calcium supplements (1,200 mg daily) may reduce physical symptoms and mood swings
- Magnesium supplements may reduce bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings
- The chasteberry herb may help relieve symptoms like breast swelling and discomfort
How can I get rid of premenstrual dysphoric disorder at home?
- Regular aerobic exercise can improve your mood. If you can, exercise throughout the month.
- Relaxation exercises, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga, may lower stress.
- Getting enough sleep can reduce your fatigue and moodiness.
- Try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, which can make symptoms worse.
- Placing a heating pad on your abdomen can soothe cramps.
- Taking ibuprofen 1–2 days before your period starts may help prevent painful cramps.