Premenstrual dysphoric disorder likely to become full diagnosis in next DSM

    Severe mood swings, irritability, anger, and sadness are all symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This condition is very likely going to be included in the upcoming new edition of the DSM — The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

    The diagnosis is controversial, and some experts say this is a game changer.

    Premenstrual dysphoric disorder was mentioned in the last edition of the manual as something that needed more research and data. In the upcoming edition, it will very likely be recognized as a stand-alone diagnosis.

    Dr. Neill Epperson, who heads the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, was part of a group of scientists who collected and reviewed research on this disorder for the new edition of the DSM. She says premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of PMS that affects only 2 to 5 percent of menstruating women.

    Critics have long argued that diagnosing women with this disorder means pathologizing normal symptoms, but Epperson challenges them.

    “How many of them have actually met people who are suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder and are very distressed by their symptoms and have been so for years?” she says.

    Epperson says including the disorder in the new edition of the manual will set clear standards for diagnosis and treatment.

    “Once you codify the criteria and you say, ‘OK,this is the percentage in the general population of women who meet this criteria,’ you take it very far away from medicalizing normal symptoms,” she said. “You are actually talking about a group of people who are in the minority but have significant symptoms that affect their quality of life.”

    The new edition of the DSM will be published next year.

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