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A woman’s period often announces itself in annoying ways—just ask any female between puberty and menopause. The signs can be physical, emotional or behavioral — a trio of symptoms known as PMS, that is infamous shorthand for premenstrual syndrome. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), up to 85 percent of women in their childbearing years report PMS problems. And for the vast majority of them, the symptoms are generally mild and manageable.
Then there’s the woman whose menstrual cycle shifts her into overdrive. For one or two weeks before her period, she endures PMS with a wallop of mood misery thrown in for bad measure. That’s when PMS crosses the line into Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD. This tornadic force of nature disrupts work and social lives and sends loved ones ducking for cover. Fortunately, for the 3 to 8 percent of women affected by PMDD, it’s only a temporary state—once the period starts, the PMDD resolves.
Comedians joke that hell hath no fury like a premenstrual woman. But make no mistake: PMDD is a certifiable mood disorder that can make life unbearable for those who suffer from it. In fact, some 16 percent of women diagnosed with the condition attempt suicide. There is nothing funny about that.