- TikToker Dixie D’Amelio recently announced that she has been diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
- PMDD is a mood disorder that usually occurs about a week prior to a woman’s period.
- Experts say it is characterized by the degree to which it disrupts a person’s life.
- Lifestyle changes may help, but there are medical treatments as well.
- It’s important to see your doctor if you believe you have PMDD.
Singer and TikToker Dixie D’Amelio recently revealed that she has been diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
She said on TikTok that she had taken a two-week break because she “wasn’t feeling great” and wasn’t sure why. She then went on to say that she had recently been diagnosed with PMDD.
The 21-year-old explained that the condition “really affects your moods and behavior and many different parts of your life.”
D’Amelio said she didn’t realize just how much her PMDD was affecting her until she got to the point where she was at. “… [I]t really disrupts my life, my attitude, my personality, my relationships, and just who I am as a person …”
“I have never felt so low and just down,” she said.
The reality show personality, who stars on Hulu’s “The D’Amelio Show,” said it was “alarming” to not know what was going on, and she felt like she had no control over her body and mind. She further noted that she had been dealing with the symptoms every month for the past seven years.
She said she was “happy” that she had finally gotten diagnosed so she would know better ways to handle her emotions. She did acknowledge, however, that there was no cure, so she would probably continue to have the symptoms each month.
According to Christopher M. Zahn, MD, FACOG, Chief of Clinical Practice and Health Equity and Quality at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, PMDD is a mental disorder, specifically a mood disorder, characterized by PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms that interfere with daily life.
Zahn said symptoms may include:
- sharp mood swings
- problems concentrating
- changes in appetite
- difficulty sleeping
The physician added that many PMS symptoms overlap with the symptoms of PMDD, including irritability, insomnia, and anxiety.
PMS can also include symptoms such as:
- food cravings
- aches and pains
- weight changes
Zahn said that PMS and PMDD can both have depression as a symptom. They can also both have symptoms that overlap with depression symptoms.
The difference between PMS and PMDD, according to Zahn, lies in the severity of symptoms and their impact on a person’s life. “The symptoms of PMDD can absolutely be disabling,” he said.
Zahn further noted that symptoms will usually occur in the 7-10 days prior to the start of a woman’s period.
Liisa Hantsoo, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Director of Research, Center for Women’s Reproductive Mental Health at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that mood symptoms – like low mood, irritability, anxiety, or mood swings – are a “key component” of PMDD.
“This can look like becoming suddenly sad or tearful, feeling more sensitive to others’ comments or noticing that your feelings are more easily hurt, feeling tense or on edge, feeling worthless or down on yourself, lashing out at others, or having more interpersonal conflicts than usual,” said Hantsoo.
You might also have symptoms like low energy, changes in appetite, food cravings, sleep changes, losing interest in things you normally enjoy or feeling overwhelmed. Some will also have physical symptoms like breast tenderness or headaches, she noted.
These symptoms will usually start about a week before your period and may stop within a day or two of when your menstrual flow begins.
Hantsoo suggests tracking your symptoms with an app or a printable tracker like the Daily Record of Severity of Problems (DRSP).
“You’ll want to track daily across your entire menstrual cycle, for at least two cycles,” said Hantsoo.
Once you have tracked your symptoms, Honstsoo says you can take this information to a healthcare professional. “You might start with your primary care doctor,” she advised.
According to Kimberly A. Yonkers, MD, Katz Family Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School/U Mass Memorial Medical Center, you could also consult the IAPMD database, which provides a listing of OB-GYNs or visit a mental health professional.
“Many psychiatrists and psychologists know about PMDD and may have resources available to patients,” she said.
Hantsoo said that initially your doctor might take a look at your lifestyle habits to see if improving your diet, getting better sleep, and eliminating substances like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine might help reduce your symptoms.
However, she noted that, for true PMDD, lifestyle changes alone are usually not enough.
“In terms of medications,” said Hontsoo, “the option that has the most research support behind it is a type of antidepressant medication called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).”
“Another research-backed option is oral contraceptive medication,” she added, “although some people who are sensitive to the progesterone in oral contraceptives may experience symptom worsening.”
Finally, she said that psychotherapy can help people in learning how to manage their symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy are all useful modalities to explore, according to Hontsoo.
Julia Bennett, MPH, Senior Director of Digital Education & Learning Strategy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America suggested that some of the other ways you can find help include reaching out to SAMHSA, a counselor, your insurance company, or a doctor or nurse.
“It may also be helpful letting a close friend or family member know how you’re feeling,” she suggested. She further suggested that the staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center can help.
“PMDD can be overwhelming,” Bennett concluded, “but you don’t have to face it alone.”