The prevalence of PMDD (moderate-to-severe luteal phase symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, interpersonal sensitivity, OR mood swings, with full clearance of those symptoms by the end of menses) is about 5.5%. Critically, this excludes those who have underlying depression or anxiety disorders who also have symptom changes around their period (premenstrual magnification (PMM) or premenstrual exacerbation (PME), these terms mean the same thing).

It’s crucial to understand that the prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in females is VERY HIGH, much higher than PMDD. Somewhere around 15-35% of females will have a diagnosable depression or anxiety disorder in their lifetime (lifetime prevalence), and about 25% of females at any given time (point prevalence) have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Regarding cycle effects on those chronic mental health symptoms in people with a diagnosable disorder: a big study found that 60% of females with depression had premenstrual exacerbation of symptoms. Estimating conservatively, that’s about 15% (25% with current mental disorder * .60) with PME at any given time, so the prevalence of PME of an depression (~15%) is much higher than PMDD (~5.5%)

So to recap, this issue of PMDD is about as common as diabetes in females (which has a female prevalence of about ~5-6%, per the CDC, compared to the PMDD prevalence of 5.5%), whereas the issue of PME/PMM is about a little more common than breast cancer (which has a prevalence of ~13%, per the CDC, compared to the PMM/PME estimated prevalence above of roughly 15%). In total, assuming these groups are roughly non-overlapping, that means these premenstrual changes probably affect about 20% of females (PMDD+PME/PMM).

Updated 22 December, 2018 by Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, PhD

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