ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Most women have heard or even dealt with PMS, those nagging symptoms like fatigue, bloating and irritability associated with your menstrual cycle.

Unlike PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD is a more severe disorder not many people know about because it's hard to diagnose and even harder to treat.

PMDD can cause terrible depression and paralyzing anxiety, but it's not a mental illness.

WTSP reporter Liz Crawford learned about PMDD through Brett Buchert and her journey living with this disorder. Buchert has had symptoms since middle school. She's had years of medication and counseling.

“Some days I feel great and I'll be thinking about how happy I am, and then a few days later, I'd be crushed and talk to my mom on the phone crying,” Buchert said.

She finally reached rock bottom when she took a semester off from the University of Florida to focus on her health. Doctors diagnosed she had PMDD.

“It's like, you feel so much pain inside and you don't really know what caused it, which makes it worse," Buchert said.

PMDD is a hormone-based mood disorder with symptoms hitting during the second half of the menstrual cycle.

Learn more: What is PMDD?

“Unless the person who's treating them is asking about the time sequence of the symptoms and trying to coincide them with the patient's cycle, they may miss it,” said Dr. Les Cole, who works as a functional medicine doctor.

For Buchert, finally getting the proper diagnosis made all the difference.

“It really is a lot of peace of mind just to know that there is something,” Burchet said. “I know it still sucks, but there is something going on.”

Buchert thoroughly tracks her symptoms and now tries to plan around her PMDD.

“For one, I took my GRE test, and I could schedule it at any time, so I scheduled it in a time when I'd be happy and not super anxious,” Buchert said.

Now, she’s taking her own struggle and trying to make a difference in the PMDD community.

Brett’s not only brave enough to share her own story with the world, but she and her mom are working on developing an app to help people track PMDD symptoms.

The free app is called Me v PMDD. It will be available for download in September.

It's the first PMDD app, and it tracks specific symptoms along with your cycle, graphs your results and helps you and your doctor determine if you have PMDD. There’s also a way to track your treatment options and keep a “self-love” journal.

You can learn more about PMDD through the Gia Allemand Foundation, a not-for-profit organization providing support and resources for those affected by PMDD.

10News will host a live conversation with Dr. Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, a clinical psychologist on the 10News Facebook page Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 7:00 p.m.

You can listen in and join the conversation with Dr. Eisenlohr-Moul who is a lead scientist studying PMDD. She will be available to answer Facebook questions and comments.

Learn more about Dr. Tory Eisenlohr-Moul here.

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