Survey of premenstrual symptom severity and impairment in Korean adolescents: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, subthreshold premenstrual dysphoric disorder and premenstrual syndrome

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The aims of the study were to examine the prevalence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), subthreshold PMDD and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) among adolescents, and to assess the nature of symptoms and the impact on daily life functions, especially for PMDD and subthreshold PMDD.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted among adolescents from an urban area. Participants included 984 girls divided into the following four groups, using a premenstrual symptoms screening tool: PMDD, subthreshold PMDD, moderate/severe PMS and no/mild PMS. An Adolescent Mental Problem Questionnaire, Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale, revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, and a menstrual information questionnaire were also used.


Sixty-three (6.76%) of the subjects met the criteria for PMDD and 58 (6.2%) were subthreshold PMDD. The subthreshold PMDD group included 79.3% who met the symptom criteria for PMDD, but their impairment was moderate, and 21.7% who were falling short by the number of symptoms for PMDD diagnosis, though reporting severe impairment. The symptom intensity and frequency of the subthreshold PMDD subjects were similar to those in subjects with PMDD. In these two groups, 69% had moderate to severe physical symptoms. Psychiatric problems, including depression and anxiety, were higher in the PMDD and subthreshold PMDD groups than in the moderate/severe PMS and no/mild PMS group.


In total, 20% of adolescents reported suffering from distressing premenstrual symptoms, and girls with PMDD and subthreshold PMDD were very similar in their symptom severity and characteristics. Prospective daily charting is needed to confirm the accurate diagnosis and management of PMDD.

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