About 1.6% of women and girls have symptomatic premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), according to a new review of research worldwide.
Researchers led by Dr Thomas Riley of the University of Oxford looked at studies from around the world to see how many women and girls met strict diagnostic criteria for the condition. About 1.6% did, according to the data – equating to about 31 million women and girls worldwide.
A higher proportion – 3.2% – had a provisional diagnosis, where the condition is suspected but symptoms have not been measured long enough to meet the criteria for a definite diagnosis.
The findings are published in the journal Affective Disorders.
Symptoms of PMDD include mood changes (such as depression and anxiety), physical symptoms (such as breast tenderness, and joint pain), and cognitive problems (complaints about concentration or memory).
Dr Reilly, who is a Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Research Training Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University and specialist registrar at the National Female Hormone Clinic, Maudsley Hospital, said the proportion affected could be as high as 1.6%.
“Because the diagnostic criteria are so strict, this is likely an underestimate of the lifetime prevalence of PMDD, and many more women and girls may be diagnosed. Nevertheless, the data emphasize that at any given time there is still a significant minority of women with symptomatic PMDD, which is accompanied by suicidal thoughts. strongly linked,” he said.
“There is very little training around PMDD for psychiatrists or indeed medical students. Patients often fall into the gap between clinical services, such as gynecology and mental health services. Whether the patient’s symptoms may be related to hormonal changes.
We need better awareness and training among health professionals about this debilitating but highly treatable condition so that patients can benefit from effective, evidence-based management and support.”
Dr. Thomas Reilly, University of Oxford
Researchers used data from 50,659 female participants in 44 studies across six continents. They say the data challenge many preconceptions about the illness, including that it is a medicalization of ‘normal’ menstrual symptoms or that it is a ‘Western culture-bound syndrome’.
Claire Knox, an organizational psychologist who co-authored the paper and has experienced PMDD herself, said: “In a world where the health and well-being of every individual is important, the estimated 31 million women worldwide silently struggling with premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a condition that profoundly affects their daily lives, cannot be ignored.
“This staggering figure is a wake-up call, emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced diagnostic processes, effective treatment plans and strong support systems for those affected. More than ever, it is imperative that we invest in comprehensive research and public health strategies. Address PMDD and Manage, ensure that these millions of women do not face their struggles in the shadows, but with the full support and understanding of a society that values their health as a priority.”
Reilly, T.J., etc. (2024). Prevalence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2024.01.066.