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A Test to Diagnose Pre-Menstrual Syndrome

Update Date: Dec 22, 2012 12:08 PM EST

While a lot of women don't feel a thing or experience any symptom around menstrual cycles, for some others, the pre-menstrual symptoms can be really bad and even hamper their day-to-day life with depressive moods, anxiety, excessive emotional sensitivity, fatigue, lack of concentration, headache, etc.

However, according to Leire Aperribai, PhD holder in Psychology from the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, a defined criteria and diagnosis of this problem is yet to be studied and agreed on and hence "it is difficult to develop suitable interventions to treat women suffering from these symptoms," Medical Xpress reports.

In her PhD thesis, Aperribai firstly defined the disorder with the help of DSM-4. According to the manual, the pre-menstrual symptom is serious enough to cause clear damage, socially as well as in the workplace, and also specifies that these symptoms take place during the luteal phase (between ovulation and menstruation).

The manual further explains that the symptoms disappear once the menstruation starts 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; in other words, sadness, bursting into tears or manifestations of emotional over-sensitiveness towards rejection by other people; and irascibility or irritability, Medical Xpress reports.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, is still classified among "non-specific depressive disorders," and according to Aperribai, among the current classifications, this is the one that has been most welcomed.

For her study, Aperribai produced a set of questionnaires and had working or studying women answer them, to check its reliability. According to the statistics, premenstrual dysphoric disorder is suffered by 3 to 10 percent of the population. However, the study conducted by Aperribai revealed that 15 percent of women suffer from the disorder.

The author explained that this difference is "normal because it concerns test screening. In other words, this is not a diagnostic tool, but a filter to distinguish those who suffer from the disorder from those who do not."

Aperribai has emphasized on the plus points of using the test questionnaire in research as well as in health centres. The duration of the test is less than 10 minutes, and the positive cases can be tested further for diagnosis.

The title of the thesis is "An Evaluation of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: building a screening tool."  

"We've done one part, but there is still quite a way to go," Aperribai says.

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