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Web Letter

I find this article very upsetting--demeaning, as I suffer from PMDD, and I've suffered greatly from it, both physically and mentally. It has affected every area of my life--my career, my relationships and my financial situation, which is now in ruins. In fact, this disorder has negatively affected my life in so many ways that it's just too big and too horrible to even attempt to explain it all here, and I won't even try.

To me, this article represents more of the same old thing--that people out there don't understand. Most doctors even have that attitude, which makes it all the worse for those of us who suffer from this condition, and all the more difficult to get any kind of treatment. But that attitude is going to change soon, because recent scientific evidence proves that this disorder does exist--and they even know why.

Previously, researchers have shown that women with PMDD have an abnormal response to normal hormone levels and, thus, are differentially sensitive to their own hormone changes. But in 2007, scientists discovered that PMDD is caused from common variants in the estrogen receptor alpha gene that are associated with PMDD. What's more, this association is seen only in women with a variant form of another gene, catechol--o-- methyltransferase (COMT), which is involved in regulating the function of the prefrontal cortex, a critical regulator of mood.

This research was detailed in the article "Risk for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Is Associated with Genetic Variation in ESR1, the Estrogen Receptor Alpha Gene" by Liang Huo, Richard E. Straub, Peter J. Schmidt, Kai Shi, Radhakrishna Vakkalanka, Daniel R. Weinberger and David R. Rubinow. Drs. Huo, Schmidt, Shi and Rubinow are affiliated with the Behavioral Endocrinology Branch, while Drs. Straub, Vakkalanka and Weinberger are with the Program on Genes, Cognition and Psychosis, of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 62, Issue 8 (October 15, 2007), published by Elsevier.

Bobette Bryan

St. Joseph, MO

Aug 28 2008 - 8:10pm

Web Letter

This article was published way back in October 17, 2005, but a google search for PMDD still brings it up on the first page.

I do agree that we are over-labeling everything. PMDD is really a severe form of PMS, which itself is a form of hormonal imbalance. We could call both conditions symptoms of hormonal imbalance and be closer to the truth of the issue, rather than making it all weird and mysterious with new labels.

Nevertheless, whatever you label it, it is real. Having been someone whose hormonal problems have triggered major emotional problems (of the variety usually treated in a clinic, not the normal kind of tension or stress everybody goes through), I can say, it is a real problem/condition.

And while I disagree with what the drug companies are doing, and in fact disagree with a drug solution (as putting more chemicals in your body is unlikely to help your hormones become balanced), I still don't appreciate the diminishing of the problem itself, because those of us who have it--whatever you want to label it--can say, Hey, this ain't your momma's PMS, buddy! This stuff is severe!

If labeling it PMDD helps people to understand that this isn't typical mild hormonal fluctuations but something a bit more intense, then that's fine by me.

April Coile

Cleveland, TN

Jun 30 2008 - 12:35pm

Web Letter

As an avid reader of your magazine and a supporter of your general views, I am glad that this article had slipped below my radar until today because I now question your point of view on issues of any sort regarding women. As a biochemist, a woman and a person who is militantly against pharmaceutical companies unnecessarily pill-hustling, I am disappointed that your writers have failed to recognize the entire point of this issue. It's not that PMDD is not a mental disorder, because it absolutely does exist and quite frankly it is a shame that it has taken the medical community this long to recognize it. The real travesty here is that the pharmaceutical companies saw this disease and realized that the general public would view it with skeptics' eyes. They would do so because it is a mental disorder affecting women only, much like the infamous "hysteria" which women suffered from in the past, and took advantage of the fact that (our patriarchal) society wouldn't take it seriously but would aid them in mocking these poor women with insulting TV commercials and even more insulting drug treatment(s). What you as true seers of the truth should be pointing out is the fact that the women who are suffering in the full definition of the word from this mental disorder are being mocked, discredited and taken advantage of by pharmaceutical companies and articles like this alike.

Dora Cacioppo

Cambridge, MA

Jun 21 2007 - 11:45pm