Monday, August 01, 2005


While leaving the gas station, I heard a radio commercial for PMDD: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

Irritated I turned the channel while saying, "Argh. Just what we need...."
Peanut piped up from the backseat with, "What? What's wrong with it?"

He knows I'll change the channel quick if I don't want him to hear something and often he's the one reminding me when Nelly or R.Kelly comes on the radio.

I retort, "Nothing. You're too young for me to even begin to tell you why that commercial irritated the hell out of me."

He left it at that because he knows usually I will try, but in a condensed 5-yr old worthy version.

So I made a note to look this "disorder" up when I got to work. There seems to be some truth in it, but I'm still skeptical. While I understand that every woman experiences her menstrual cycle in varying ways, I'm hesitant to label those 9% as having a "disorder" because, well, that's not what women really need. I don't think we need the idea of women having a disorder hanging over us because it might create the idea in our society that PMS is easily fixed with yet another pill.

Tom Cruise, lately, has been on a crusade about our over-medicated society when it comes to Post-Pardum Depression and ADD/ADHD. He ain't seen nuthin' yet.

The Monitor on Psychology claims it to be real but only affecting 3-9% of women.

"It's a real biological condition for which women seek treatment--and for which effective treatment is available," says Jean Endicott, PhD, director of the premenstrual evaluation unit at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Eight years ago it was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

My sister used to have severe migraines and cramps which have lessened some after having 2 children. She still relies on Motrin PMS but I don't hear her complain nearly as much as I used to. I don't complain at all because my symptoms are far less intense than hers.

I am skeptical because I think it disingenuous at best to require a woman be diagnosed with a particular disorder in order to receive necessary treatment or to have people believe her (which I think is more the case here).

But many health professionals say PMDD does not exist, that it can be confused with other mental health disorders, such as depression. Psychologists in this camp contend women shouldn't have to be diagnosed with a mental illness in order for others to believe they are uncomfortable or unhappy or to get help and support.

This paragraph echoes my exact thoughts:

"PMS and PMDD are both 'culture-bound' syndromes," says Joan Chrisler, PhD, a psychology professor at Connecticut College and president of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. "There is no evidence [that PMDD exists], though people have to find such evidence," says Paula Caplan, PhD, author of "They Say You're Crazy" (1995, Perseus Books). "It is really appalling that using PMDD for women who want recognition for discomfort is a very clear message that goes something like: 'OK, OK, we'll believe you are feeling bad if we get to call you mentally ill for feeling bad.' Can you imagine if we did that to men?"

So, you ask, what are the meds they prescribe to "fix" this problem?

Sarafem (repackaged Prozac) and Zoloft.

That's right, heavy narcotics which run a high risk of dependence and are generally used to treat depression are being used to "treat" PMDD. Some claim this could hide the real issue instead of addressing it and I would have to agree. But that's how I feel about any medication needed for psychological disorders/diseases. We are an over medicated society after all.

What I did like at the end of this article is this:

Whether PMDD is a mental disorder or not, the most important thing is to give women who seek help validation. "Whatever they're experiencing, they're experiencing," [Chrisler] says.

And I agree. So why the need to classify extreme PMS as a mental disorder?