The women told they’re mentally ill when they are really crippled by period pain

Mail Online
United Kingdom

By Jo Waters
Last updated at 11:32 PM on 18th July 2011

Kirsty Baranowski stood in the middle of the road hammering on a taxi driver’s windscreen. She was incandescent with rage because he’d suddenly pulled out in front of her.

The outburst was completely out of character, but for 20 years she had been battling with violent mood swings in the run-up to her period.

‘Normally, I was mild mannered,’ says Kirsty, 41, who lives in Southfields, South-West London, with her children, Alexander, ten, and Sophia, nine.

‘But in the week before my period  the slightest thing could set me off.  It was as if a red mist would descend and I’d just lose it.’

Kirsty’s monthly cycle would wreak havoc on her family life and resulted in the breakdown of her marriage.

‘As soon as my husband Andrew came home from work we’d have a blazing row. He was bewildered by my behaviour and didn’t know how to help me.

‘I felt wretched, too, because of breast pain and bloating — my stomach would swell up so much I’d look pregnant. I’d also get painful migraines. There were only seven days a month, after my period finished, when I felt normal.’

It would take 20 years for Kirsty to arrive at a correct diagnosis: she was suffering from Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This is a severe form of pre-menstrual syndrome and is estimated to affect between 500,000 and a million British women.

Despite its prevalence, experts claim many women are being wrongly diagnosed as suffering from psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder  or schizophrenia.

Symptoms of PMDD include persistent anger and irritability, moodiness,  being out of control, intense feelings of unhappiness and worthlessness, crying for no reason, difficulty concentrating and even suicidal thoughts.

‘I’d had terrible mood swings and migraines since I was 15,’ said Kirsty

‘Ninety per cent of the women I see in my clinic have been diagnosed with depression that has not responded to psychiatric treatment,’ says Professor John Studd, a retired professor of gynaecology at Imperial College, London, who runs the London PMS and Menopause Clinic in Harley Street.

‘The vast majority turn out to have a cyclical hormonal problem that could be corrected easily with hormone treatments to stop ovulation.

‘Some have been misdiagnosed as having a psychiatric illness for 20 years or more and been treated with antidepressants, mood-stabilising drugs, mental hospital in-patient treatment and electro-convulsive therapy.’

Synthetic hormones to stop ovulation is not the answer…PMDD is a very severe form of hormone balance that can be managed and treated.  PMDD is classified as a mental illness.  Not what a woman wants to have on her medical record. Hormone imbalance is not a disease.

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.