Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) affects approximately 5 percent of women of reproductive age. The exact cause of PMDD is not known, though several theories have been proposed. One theory states that women who experience PMDD may have abnormal reactions to normal hormone changes that occur with each menstrual cycle. Any woman can develop PMDD, however, those with a history of mood disorders or postpartum depression may be at an increased risk.
The primary symptoms that distinguish PMDD is the onset and duration of PMDD symptoms -- with symptoms appearing during the week before and disappearing within a few days after the onset of menses -- and the level by which these symptoms disrupt daily living tasks. Symptoms of PMDD are so severe that women have an impaired level of functioning at home, at work, and in interpersonal relationships during this symptomatic time period (this diminished level of functioning is generally in great contrast with the same woman's interactions and abilities at other times during the month.). Symptoms can include anger, agitation, heart palpitations, visual disturbances, appetite changes, headache, nausea, forgetfulness, vomiting, painful menstruation, fluid retention, etc.
Source: NARSAD, The Brain and Behavior Research Fund. www.narsad.org