Some women might be able to blame their parents for their premenstrual misery: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is the most severe form of PMS, and it affects 2 to 5 percent of all women — and as it turns out, there might be a genetic root to those mood swings.
A January 2017 study from the National Institutes of Health discovered a complex of genes that might make some women more susceptible to the depression, anxiety, and irritability that come with PMDD. The researchers say that this gives more evidence to support the idea that PMDD affects how your cells respond to estrogen and progesterone.
The study, which was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, first looked at how women with PMDD reacted to hormones. When they "turned off" estrogen and progesterone, women reported that their symptoms of PMDD completely went away. But when they turned the hormones back on, the symptoms came back.
The researchers also looked at the white blood cells of women in both groups of the study. The cells of women with PMDD had a gene complex that reacted differently when exposed to hormones than the cells of women in the control group. Overall, the study showed that there's a biological reason why women with PMDD react so severely to changes in their hormones.
"This is a big moment for women's health, because it establishes that women with PMDD have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones – not just emotional behaviors they should be able to voluntarily control," researcher Dr. David Goldman said in a statement. So if you have PMDD, you're not just "having a bad day" when you have mood swings — it's biology.