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Are women crazy every 28 days?

Psychiatric manual may too-quickly call premenstrual symptoms a disorder

Unhappy? Bloated? Craving food? Have tender breasts? If you read the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), you'll find your symptoms listed under "premenstrual dysphoric disorder" (PMDD).

But clinical and research psychologist Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., writing in the Summer issue of Ms. magazine-now on newsstands-believes that such a diagnosis is not based on solid science. "Do some women report feeling worse before their periods than at other times of the month?" Caplan asks. "Certainly, although in some countries and cultures more than others . But that is worlds away from a mental illness ."

The research doesn't bear out the "illness" label, Caplan writes. One study even showed that men identified PMDD symptoms in themselves as commonly as women did. Bottom line, the author suggests that women look at who benefits from the pathologizing of women's normal physical changes-such as pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, which repackaged its antidepressant Prozac into the feminine-sounding Sarafem and convinced the FDA to approve it for PMDD treatment.

Note to editors: Author Paula Caplan is available for interviews.