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Nearly every woman at some point has some symptoms as menstruation approaches. For about half of these women, symptoms are mild and do not affect normal daily life. The other half report symptoms severe enough to impair daily life and relationships. Between 3 - 5% of women report extremely severe symptoms.
In general, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a set of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms that occur during the last week of the luteal phase (1 - 2 weeks before menstruation) in most cycles. The symptoms typically go away within 4 days after bleeding starts and do not start again until at least day 13 in the cycle. Women may begin to experience premenstrual syndrome symptoms at any time during their reproductive years. Once established, the symptoms tend to remain fairly constant until menopause, although they can vary from cycle to cycle.
The American Psychiatric Association has specific criteria that defines premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD, also called late-luteal dysphoric disorder, is a condition marked by severe depression, irritability, and tension before menstruation. PMDD has features of both anxiety and depression disorders.
Diagnostic Criteria. Symptoms must occur during the last week of the premenstrual (luteal) phase in most menstrual cycles. They should resolve within a few days after the period starts. They should markedly interfere with work or social functioning. Also, symptoms should not just be those of another underlying disorder.
Five or more of the following symptoms must occur:
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