Maybe a year or two ago, I was giving a speech about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to a group of healthcare professionals. In the speech I spoke about risk factors for postpartum depression and I mentioned a history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder or severe PMS. Afterward, a very prominent reproductive psychiatrist who had been sitting in the audience sought me out to tell me I was dead wrong, and that there was no evidence that PMS or PMDD were connected to PPD.
I believe strongly in evidence. I have always strived to make Postpartum Progress an evidence-based blog. This is important, because otherwise healthcare providers wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending us to their patients. I also believe, though, in the power of experience. The power of thousands of women saying the same thing and making the same connections, independently of each other. I hear from so many people from so many places that I can see trends in what women are saying about their illnesses, trends which are often later reinforced by research.
The connection between PMS and PPD is now one of them. I wrote about this study when it first came out, and the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health has just posted about it on their blog and explain it much better than I can. The study of nearly 500 women, conducted by the University of Iowa, found that, “… having a history of moderate to severe PMS/PMDD increased the likelihood of PPD by about twofold.”
Most important is their conclusion: “… in screening women for risk factors for PPD, we should be asking not only about a history of depression but also specifically about symptoms that arise premenstrually.” If you have severe PMS or PPMD, you should be aware of your increased risk of PPD and be on the lookout for it.
What I love about this is that it confirms what women already knew, and it confirms that we often understand ourselves and what’s going on inside of us and what the connections are a lot more than people might think.
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