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Wales Online
Wales Online
Lydia Stephens

The signs and symptoms of PMDD as Emmerdale’s Cathy Hope receives diagnosis

Emmerdale's Cathy Hope has been the subject of a mental health storyline over the last few weeks and was at the centre of her father Bob's worries when she recently climbed onto a bridge during a manic episode.

The teenager, played by Gabrielle Dowling, finally received answers explaining the possible reason behind her mood sings and manic episodes on Monday night's episode, when her GP suggested it could be premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). However the teen is still waiting for an official diagnosis.

According to the NHS, Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more severe version of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Most women experience PMS at some point, however women with PMDD will experience the symptoms much more intensely.

Read more: The signs and symptoms of autism in adult women

What are the symptoms of PMS?

PMS is related to the changes in hormone levels during a woman's menstrual cycle, some women ma be affected by these changes more than others. According to the NHS, the most common symptoms of PMS are:

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset, anxious or irritable
  • tiredness or trouble sleeping
  • bloating or tummy pain
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches
  • spotty skin
  • greasy hair
  • changes in appetite and sex drive

What are the signs and symptoms of PMDD?

The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS, but they may be felt more intensely, with a greater impact on your daily life. The cause of PMDD is unknown but it has been linked to sensitivity changes in hormones or certain genetic variations that are inherited. The symptoms can include:

  • physical symptoms such as cramps, headaches and joint and muscle pain
  • behavioural symptoms such as binge eating and problems sleeping
  • mental and emotional symptoms, such as feeling very anxious, angry, depressed or, in some cases, even suicidal

According to mental health charity Mind, PMDD occurs during the luteal phase of a woman's menstrual cycle, the time between ovulation and your period which is around two weeks but can be longer or shorter for other women.

A person with PMDD described it as: "The best way to describe it is that, once a month, I pressed my own self-destruct button and literally let my (normally very happy and satisfying) life implode around me. Then when the dark thoughts lifted and cleared, I spent the next two weeks trying to pick up the pieces."

Treating PMS and PMDD

The NHS suggests that lifestyle changes may help manage the symptoms of PMS. A doctor may recommend the following :

  • exercise regularly
  • eat a healthy balanced diet
  • getting plenty of sleep - seven to eight hours each night
  • reducing stress with yoga or meditation
  • using paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease pain
  • keep a diary of your symptoms for at least two to three cycle to share with your GP

A GP can recommend other treatments, including:

  • hormonal medicine – such as the combined contraceptive pill
  • cognitive behavioural therapy – a talking therapy
  • antidepressants
  • dietary supplements

A person with PMS or PMDD may also be referred to a specialist - this could be a gynaecologist, psychiatrist or counsellor.

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