The billion-dollar battle over premenstrual disorder - Gender - Salon.com

Sunday, Feb 26, 2012 1:00 AM GMT Standard Time

The billion-dollar battle over premenstrual disorder

Long-suffering women and big pharma make uneasy allies as the American Psychiatric Association nears a call on PMDD

Is pre-menstrual disphoric disorder real

 (Credit: Afrociaal via Shutterstock)

For about five to seven days of every month, a woman may as feel as though she were a different person. A person she doesn’t like. Things come out of her mouth that she normally wouldn’t say, cruel things, directed at the people she loves. A soundtrack of self-loathing thoughts loop in her head. Any rejection during this period has the ability to wreak fearsome terror on her psyche. She may have sudden outbursts of sobbing, overwhelming sadness or an oceanic feeling of anxiety. One woman described the several-day sensation as though she were “being forcibly held underwater” — and every time she came up for air, a “boot was pushing” her back down. Then, suddenly, the melancholic fog lifts, the fatigue evaporates and she is herself again. All because she got her period.

Doctors and psychiatrists at work on the newest version of the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders — the American Psychiatric Association’s bible for mental-health professionals — describe this confluence of symptoms as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). The revised version of the DSM, just the fourth new edition in 52 years, will be published next year.


  More Natasha Vargas-Cooper

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