A first-of-its-kind women’s health research initiative has been launched by academics at University of the West of Scotland – examining an understudied but severe hormone-based mood disorder.
The condition – premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – is an acute form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which affects one in 20 women.
Of those with PMDD (approximately 824,000 in the UK), 72 percent will experience suicidal ideation, 50 percent will self-harm, and 33 percent will attempt suicide. On average, it takes 12 years for people to receive a correct diagnosis.
Dr Lynsay Matthews, women’s health expert and academic in the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS, said: “Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe mood disorder where people experience distressing and frightening psychological symptoms in the week or two before their period.
“While it affects one in 20 women, very few people know about it. This means that many may suffer for years without knowing why they feel the way they do, and may not get the help they need.
“PMDD can have a debilitating impact on everyday life, and may even affect relationships, education and employment.”
“While many of the physical symptoms are the same as PMS, people with PMDD will experience far more severe psychological symptoms. These include mood swings, a feeling of hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and difficulty concentrating.
“Some people will first experience PMDD around the time their periods begin. But others may develop the condition later on, such as after pregnancy, or after they stop breastfeeding their child.
“The PMDD statistics are concerning – we hope our research agenda will shape the future of PMDD research and support across the UK.”
PMDD has been in the spotlight increasingly lately, following singer and social media star Dixie D’Amelio speaking out about her diagnosis and the condition featuring in a storyline on ITV’s soap opera, Emmerdale.
The comprehensive research agenda developed by Lynsay and her research partner, Julie Riddell, from the University of Glasgow, followed a UK-wide consultation, working with vital stakeholders in this area to identify research priorities.
The five key research priorities are: the diagnosis and management of PMDD, the best approaches for psychological support, suicide and self-harm prevention, the impact of PMDD on life and support for hormonal ‘trigger’ events.
The research agenda will be used to enable researchers in this area to focus their funding bids, give lecturers and researchers the ability to identify topics for student teaching and research, enable policy decision-makers to identify and implement policy initiatives in their local areas, and give not-for-profit groups the ability to use it to develop grassroots initiatives.
The research directly contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal number three (good health and wellbeing) and goal number five (gender equality).