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Bipolar disorder and PMDD run the risk of misdiagnosis

Bipolar disorder and PMDD run the risk of misdiagnosis

16 May | 0 Comments | By Rachael

People with bipolar disorder suffer from mood swings, with depression being the most common symptom. Since premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) also leads to mood swings and depression, it often leads physicians and mental health professionals to misdiagnose PMDD as bipolar disorder among women.

Though both the disorders affect the mood, it is essential to comprehend the difference between PMDD and bipolar disorder. While bipolar disorder is a severe psychiatric disorder, PMDD is a disorder caused due to the fluctuation of reproductive hormones. Both PMDD and bipolar disorder are two different types of medical conditions with very different treatments.

Approximately 3 to 9 percent of women suffer from PMDD, a condition described by strong emotional and physical symptoms that occur between ovulation and menstruation, less severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is more common. PMDD is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) as a “mood disorder.” The symptoms of PMDD are quite similar to depression that causes interference with daily functioning.

Key differences between PMDD and bipolar disorder

Unlike bipolar disorder, the problem of PMDD develops a week prior to the starting of the menstrual cycle and ends a week after the completion of the cycle. Therefore, PMDD has distinct timeline compared to bipolar disorder and other mood-related problems. It is important to realize that PMDD doesn’t comprise the more elevated moods caused due to bipolar disorders I and II: mania and hypomania.

Both the elevated moods inflict the symptoms of sleeplessness, high energy and/or possible distractibility, grandiosity, racing thoughts, and increased activity and speaking. People struggling with such varied moods indulge in financial and sexual recklessness, as well as speeding excesses. They may also experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations. Most women seek treatment for PMS and PMDD only once they are in their 30s. Unfortunately, this is also the time when bipolar disorder hits them. Consequently, it becomes difficult to diagnose PMDD and bipolar disorder due to the overlapping of symptoms.

In one study, scientists indicated that women with bipolar disorder exhibit significant menstruation-related mood alterations, despite receiving effective treatment for their bipolar disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), a person in order to be diagnosed with PMDD must exhibit five of the following 11 symptoms in most menstrual cycles of the previous year:

  • Evidently depressed mood, hopelessness or self-deprecating thoughts
  • Clear affective lability (e.g., feeling suddenly sad or tearful or experiencing increased sensitivity to rejection)
  • Noticeable anxiety, tension, feelings of being “keyed up” or “on edge”
  • Lessened interest in usual activities (e.g., work, school, friends and hobbies)
  • Obstinate and marked anger or irritability or increased interpersonal conflicts
  • Subjective sense of difficulty in concentrating
  • Lethargy, easy fatigability or noticeable lack of energy
  • Clear change in appetite, overeating or specific food cravings
  • A particular sense of being overwhelmed or out of control
  • Hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Additional physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness or swelling, headaches, joint or muscle pain, a sensation of bloating or weight gain
  • Early diagnosis is key to recovery

Besides the problem of diagnostic confusion, bipolar disorder increases the risk of developing PMDD. Though scientists are still unclear about the reasons behind the overlap between both the conditions, the medical practitioners caution against misdiagnosis of any of them. In case of any doubts, women are recommended to consult an expert without any hesitation and fear.

If you know someone exhibiting the signs of PMDD or bipolar disorder, contact the Arizona Mental Health Helpline to connect with the mental health treatment centers in Arizona that best suit the needs of the patients. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-606-7791 to or chat with our medical representatives to avail the facilities of one of the best mental health treatment centers in Arizona.