I absolutely hate it when I get my period. Whenever that time of the month rolls around, I always feel agitated and crampy. I find myself daydreaming about a red tent where I could retreat and munch on chocolate. But the one thing I’ve always disliked more than menstruation itself has been guys dismissing my moodiness as being PMS. This has always sounded like a way of invalidating my feelings rather than an actual diagnosis. The science of PMS related moodiness has always seemed iffy to me. I’m not the only person who is skeptical. When the American Psychiatric Association considered adding premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1994, some believed that making PMDD an official diagnosis will validate the experiences of women who struggle and increase research on this disorder and potential drug treatments. However many women’s health advocates were outraged. Psychologists such as Dr. Paula J. Caplan, a research associate at the Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, argued that societal factors impact moodiness more than biological ones. Dr. Caplan specifically noted that women who deal with the supposed emotional symptoms of PMDD are more likely than other women to have challenging life situations such as domestic violence and job loss. Bloating, cramps, and breast tenderness simply feel like the last straw. Dr. Caplan and others worried that by making PMDD an official diagnosis, many women would be stigmatized and put in jeopardy of discrimination at the workplace and in child custody battles, rather than obtaining proper medical and mental health treatment.
Other female researchers such as Dr. Sarah Gehlert, a social scientist at University of Chicago, claim that PMDD definitely does exist. Still, she and others maintain that it is a relatively rare disorder. According to Dr. Gehlert’s research, only 1.3 women struggled with symptoms that fit her criteria for PMDD. However, many other women believe that they have it when they do not. This is because of the societal tendencies for women to want to blame mood swings on their periods.
The debate over whether or not PMDD should be a diagnosis continues, now that the next volume of the DSM-V is about to be published. Do you think PMDD should be added to the next edition of the DSM? Sound off below!