A screening tool to evaluate pre-menstrual disorders

Published on December 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM · No Comments

Even though there are many women who do not notice any special symptoms, there are some whose pre-menstrual disorders hamper their everyday lives: depressive mood, anxiety, excessive emotional sensitivity, fatigue, lack of concentration, headache, etc. Nevertheless, according to Leire Aperribai, PhD holder in Psychology from the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, unified criteria for defining and diagnosing this disease have yet to be agreed on, "and so it is difficult to develop suitable interventions to treat women suffering from these symptoms."

Aperribai has sought to fill this gap through her PhD thesis. Her first task was to define the disorder, and to do this she took as her basis the 4th version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

This manual defines premenstrual dysphoric disorder and proposes criteria for diagnosing it. For example, it explains that the symptoms are sufficiently serious to cause clear damage, socially as well as in the workplace, and points out that this takes place during the luteal phase, in other words, during the period between ovulation and menstruation. The manual also explains that the symptoms disappear at the onset of menstruation, and for it to be regarded as a disorder, it is necessary to display at least 5 symptoms related to it, and one of them has to be among the following: depressive mood, feelings of desperation or self-rejection; clear internal anxiety, tension, a feeling of not being able to take any more; clear emotional lability, in other words, sadness, bursting into tears or manifestations of emotional over-sensitiveness towards rejection by other people; and irascibility or irritability.

In Aperribai's view, the manual gives a special identity to premenstual dysphoric disorder, despite the fact that it is still classified among those described as "non-specific depressive disorders," so it constitutes a firm proposal as it takes the main groups of symptoms into consideration. Aperribai also added that among the current classifications, this is the one that has been most welcomed.

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