Understanding Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

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The newest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders again included Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) in the list of Depressive Disorders (2013). In this paper, I argue from a feminist perspective that the presence of PMDD in the DSM combines the stigma attached to both menstruation and mental illness, in order to shame any woman who is not fulfilling the expected role of passive and accepting mother or wife. Additionally, the DSM’s false assertion that PMDD is not culturally tied forces the North American expectations of womanhood onto people in different parts of the world.

Understanding Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder was most recently reviewed and confirmed by a work group consisting of ten men to a mere four women (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The disorder consists of both affective (irritability and anxiety) and physical changes (lethargy and hypersomnia) that a woman experiences during the week before most of her periods of menses (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p.172). The DSM provides examples of social impairment that a woman suffering from PMDD might experience; they pertain to “marital discord” and problems with children (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p.174). One international study of young women in Poland shows research findings suggesting that women living in large cities are at a higher risk of acquiring PMDD (Drosdzol,
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