There are studies showing that females with histories of abuse or other severe stressors are at greater risk of self-diagnosed PMS/PMDD, as well as greater risk of perinatal depression and perimenopausal-onset mood symptoms. We don’t entirely understand the mechanisms of this yet, but it may be due to the way that stress impacts the development of the brain, and its sensitivity to various signals (such as hormones). Here is an excellent summary of the leading theory on trauma, stress, inflammation, and mood disorders.
In addition to past traumatic stress, current stress may affect PMDD symptoms. Those with PMDD report greater perceived stress during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle compared with females who do not have PMDD. In addition, increased stress (e.g. at work, in daily life) worsens premenstrual mood symptoms.
The following video includes helpful information on trauma and PMDD from the 2016 PMDD Annual Conference.
Updated 22 December, 2018 by Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, PhD & Liisa Hantsoo, PhD