Prevalence, incidence and stability of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in the community

Psychol Med. 2002 Jan;32(1):119-32. doi: 10.1017/s0033291701004925.


Background: Despite an abundance of clinical research on premenstrual and menstrual symptoms, few epidemiological data provide estimates of the prevalence, incidence, co-morbidity, stability and correlates of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in the community.

Aims: To describe the prevalence, incidence, 12 co-morbidity factors and correlates of threshold and subthreshold PMDD in a community sample of young women.

Methods: Findings are based on prospective-longitudinal community survey of 1488 women aged 14-24, who were followed-up over a period of 48 months (follow-up, N = 1,251) as part of the EDSP sample. Diagnostic assessments were based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and its 12-month PMDD diagnostic module administered by clinical interviewers. Diagnoses were calculated using DSM-IV algorithms, but daily ratings of symptoms, as required, were not available.

Results: The baseline 12-month prevalence of DSM-IV PMDD was 5.8%. Application of the diagnostic exclusion rules with regard to concurrent major depression and dysthymia decreased the rate only slightly (5.3%). An additional 18.6 % were 'near-threshold' cases, mostly because they failed to meet the mandatory impairment criterion. Over the follow-up period only few new PMDD cases were observed: cumulative lifetime incidence was 7.4%. PMDD syndrome was stable across 48 months with < 10% complete remissions among baseline PMDD cases. The 12-month and lifetime co-morbidity rates were high (anxiety disorders 47.4%, mood disorders 22.9%; somatoform 28.4%), only 26.5 % had no other mental disorder. Particularly high odds ratios were found with nicotine dependence and PTSD. In terms of correlates increased rates of 4-weeks impairment days, high use of general health and mental health services, and increased rates of suicide attempts were found.

Conclusion: In this sample of adolescents and young adults, premenstrual symptoms were widespread. However, DSM-IV PMDD was considerably less prevalent. PMDD is a relatively stable and impairing condition, with high rates of health service utilization, increased suicidality and substantial co-morbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Community Health Services
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies