"The American Psychiatric Association last year included premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) as a psychiatric disorder in the latest edition of its bible of psychiatric diseases, the DSM5. “I am hoping PMDD will be seen as a form of sexism against women and that people will call for it to be deleted from the manual because I don’t think it should be there at all,"
News.com.au—Sep 12, 2014
NEW Australian research debunks the American Psychiatric Association’s controversial new definition of premenstrual syndrome as a psychiatric disorder.
Her research showed that studies of women who present with the so-called PMDD symptoms found that the majority suffer from abuse, or problems with their work or relationships.
PMDD is a more severe form of PMS.
“This could be the real cause of their problems,” she says
Treating their problem as a mental disorder instead of addressing the real cause is unfair to these women.
If PMDD was a real biological disorder you would expect to see it among women globally, says the paper published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.
“So why is it that Western women seem to suffer much more from PMS and PMDD than women in developing countries?” she asks.
Studies from Hong Kong and China show women there report pain during their menstrual period “but hardly ever have psychological symptoms”, she said.
In Japan there are also lower rates of PMS and a study in Hawaii found attitudes to menstruation were influenced by ethnicity.
One study found the longer women of ethnic minorities spent living in the United States, the more likely they were to report PMDD.
“Thus if we are to accept PMDD as a reified disorder, then we must also accept exposure to US culture as a risk factor for contracting PMDD,” the paper says.
The American Psychiatric Association last year included premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) as a psychiatric disorder in the latest edition of its bible of psychiatric diseases, the DSM5.
Dr Browne is worried PMDD is now set to be included as a separate disorder in the upcoming edition of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Statistical Classifications of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
“This could result in discrimination against women in general because if women are more subject to hormonal imbalances than men it could be seen as making us unreliable, unfit for positions of responsibility,” she said.
Her paper concludes that PMS and PMDD are really social constructs.
When a woman explodes with anger and distress once a month it is because she’s working full-time and carrying most of the burden of running the household and minding the children.
Her distress is an understandable reaction to her family situation and this is a culturally sanctioned time of the month an outburst about her workload can be “biologically excused”.
Furthermore, she argues, women expect to suffer pain and distress during their menstrual period and many studies have found when a patient is told to expect pain their experience is more painful than those who are not warned of upcoming pain.
While it is true many women experience pain, headaches and cramps during their period they don’t need a diagnosis of a mental illness to get painkillers to control them, she said.
“In the same way you don’t need “headache syndrome” to get paracetamol,” she said.
“I am hoping PMDD will be seen as a form of sexism against women and that people will call for it to be deleted from the manual because I don’t think it should be there at all,” Dr Browne said.
“It is not actually a medical disorder but a problem with their lives that should be addressed,” she said.