A new study has found that at least 31 million women worldwide live with premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD) and that millions more may be struggling with undiagnosed symptoms.
Described by John Hopkins University as 'a much more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)', which impacts an estimated three in four women, symptoms of PMDD can range from memory issues and suicidal thoughts to intense bouts of nausea and depression.
The findings, which were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, found that around 1.6% of women are recorded as having the disorder while 3.2% only have provisional diagnoses – meaning that the condition is suspected but hasn’t yet met the necessary criteria for a confirmed diagnosis.
"In psychiatry, we rarely consider whether a patient’s symptoms might relate to hormonal changes"
Dr Thomas Reilly, a specialist registrar at the National Female Hormone Clinic in Maudsley Hospital, notes that the true figure could be even higher. ‘There is little training around PMDD for psychiatrists or indeed medical students,’ he says, noting how patients ‘often find themselves falling through gaps in clinical services, such as between gynaecology and mental health services.'
‘GPs’ knowledge about PMDD is also very variable. In psychiatry, we rarely consider whether a patient’s symptoms might relate to hormonal changes,’ he says.
Clare Knox, an organisational psychologist who co-authored the paper and has experienced PMDD herself, says: ‘This staggering figure is a wake-up call, underscoring the urgent need for enhanced diagnostic processes, effective treatment plans, and robust support systems for those affected. More than ever, it is vital that we invest in comprehensive research and public health strategies to address and manage PMDD, ensuring that these millions of women do not face their struggles in the shadows, but rather with the full support and understanding of a society that values their health as a priority.’
This article was first seen on ELLE.com/UK