The essential features of premenstrual dysphoric disorder are the expression of mood lability,
irritability, dysphoria, and anxiety symptoms that occur repeatedly during the premenstrual
phase of the cycle and remit around the onset of menses or shortly thereafter.
These symptoms may be accompanied by behavioral and physical symptoms. Symptoms
must have occurred in most of the menstrual cycles during the past year and must have an
adverse effect on work or social functioning. The intensity and/or expressivity of the accompanying
symptoms may be closely related to social and cultural background characteristics
of the affected female, family perspectives, and more specific factors such as
religious beliefs, social tolerance, and female gender role issues.
Typically, symptoms peak around the time of the onset of menses. Although it is not
uncommon for symptoms to linger into the first few days of menses, the individual must
have a symptom-free period in the follicular phase after the menstrual period begins.
While the core symptoms include mood and anxiety symptoms, behavioral and somatic
symptoms commonly also occur. However, the presence of physical and/or behavioral
symptoms in the absence of mood and/or anxious symptoms is not sufficient for a diagnosis. Symptoms are of comparable severity (but not duration) to those of another mental
disorder, such as a major depressive episode or generalized anxiety disorder. In order to
confirm a provisional diagnosis, daily prospective symptom ratings are required for at
least two symptomatic cycles.