Many women deal with premenstrual symptoms (PMS) once a month.   But some have an even more severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder - or PMDD.

And the extreme mood changes that come with it can be alarming.

PMDD affects about 8 percent of women during their reproductive years.  Those with a family history of depression have a higher risk of developing the condition.  Previous studies have also shown a possible link between PMDD and low levels of serotonin – a chemical in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals.

Symptoms of PMDD typically present during the last week of the menstrual cycle, but start to improve within a few days after menstruation begins.

Typical symptoms include:

-    Mood swings and anxiety

-    Anger or irritability

-    Feelings of depression

-    Sleep problems and fatigue

-    Changes in appetite

-    Difficulty concentrating

Doctors have prescribed antidepressants to treat PMDD, but there are also natural remedies that can help curb symptoms.

According to Dr. Jennifer Landa, an expert in bioidentical hormone therapy, women can take various vitamin supplements to help ease PMDD problems – including vitamin E, calcium, vitamin B6, and magnesium.

Landa said that herbal remedies such as evening primrose oil and chaste tree berry has also been shown to help in studies.

And while birth control pills have been shown to help control hormones during PMDD, Landa said progesterone may be the better hormonal option.  Many women see their progesterone levels fall in the second half of the cycle – the time when their symptoms start to appear.  

According to Landa, progesterone not only alleviates those symptoms, but can also help with the physical symptoms associated with PMDD, such as bloating, breast tenderness, etc.