Mental Health and PMS

We break down why your period messes with your emotions, and learn about the difference between PMS and PMDD.
While we at Knixteen love talking about periods, we are not doctors! Please talk to a medical professional for an actual diagnosis, or if you have questions or concerns about your period.
If you’re struggling with an issue and need someone to talk to, please reach out to a friend or adult, or contact Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. 

What’s PMS?

Most of us have been there. The bloating. The headaches. The fatigue. The zits. The mood swings. While it should be called PITB (Pain-In-The-Butt), you probably know it by it’s real name… PMS. PMS stands for Premenstrual syndrome, and the symptoms occur a week or two before your period starts. And here’s the crazy thing: no one reaaaaally knows why it happens. The cause is unknown, but it’s most likely related to changing estrogen and progesterone levels that happen during your cycle. One thing is for certain though: 90% of people who have periods experience at least one symptom, whether that be a physical one (like headaches) or an emotional one (like anxiety/ irritability). 

What’s PMDD?

For most of us, PMS doesn’t really interfere with our daily lives. Sure, we may have to take some pain meds, or skip a night out to stay in and watch Lizzie Mcguire on Disney+ (just me?), but for the most part, we can still go to school or work or participate in our extracurriculars. It’s annoying and difficult, but we plow through it. Go us!

For some people though, these PMS symptoms are super aggressive and can really take a hold on their lives. For 3-5% of people with periods, they experience something called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Think of this as a severe version of PMS, but especially in terms of the mental or emotional aspects of the syndrome. There’s even less known about PMDD than PMS (...yay), but it typically mimics the symptoms of major depression. Everyone is different, but if your PMS really starts to mess around with your daily life, then you may want to check in with a medical professional. 

How do I know if I have PMDD?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, PMDD is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms occur seven to 10 days before your period starts, and go away within a few days after you start it. 


How do you know if what you’re feeling is PMS, PMDD or something else, like depression or anxiety? Keep a diary and assess the severity of symptoms. This may vary month to month, but there’s most likely a trend that corresponds to your cycle if it’s PMS or PMDD. At the end of the day though, a doctor will be able to provide you a proper diagnoses! 

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