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PMDD 'real', and PASS not?

"It's the politics and money..."


1/22/01
I just finished browsing the "Sarafem" (softer name for prozac) website http://www.sarafem.com, and learning about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, (PMDD) which is the new 'official' medically approved diagnostic name for pre-menstrual syndrome. The Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical company has unveiled a new advertising campaign to help women with this problem, (the help being their medication) and to promote understanding and awareness of PMDD as a real health issue for women.

So Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder joins Post Partum Depression, as another hormone - related illness for women, that is recognized as 'real' by the medical community, has a name, and can be treated. PMDD is estimated to affect 5 to 10% of women in their childbearing years. PPD is estimated to affect 20% of women who have given birth.

There's another similar condition for women, that affects an unknown number of women, called Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS). PASS is not medically recognized as a 'real' problem, nor does it have the backing of the at-large medical community.

Why not?
Because PASS is stuck in the political war of abortion. Because of politics and money, "PASS" is not recognized as real, yet PMDD and PPD are. Women suffering from PMDD and PPD are given help, support and treatment. Women with PASS are not, and are left to suffer alone, in silence.

Let's start with the politics angle. There's nothing political about PMDD or a menstrual period. Every woman, Christian, Atheist, prochoice, prolife, gets their period. And a prochoicer wouldn't complain about women getting treated for PMDD, or say that it hurts the cause of women's freedom of choice. A prolifer would not use Post Partum Depression as a way to try and discourage childbirth, and say that childbirth or menstruation 'hurts' women, or that childbirth is 'killing' women. (even though some women die from childbirth complications). Those issues are non-political women's health issues. There's no 'bad side' to be on with these problems.

Yet with Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, it's very different. If a woman suffers from PASS after an abortion, the concern for her actual health problem disappears, and she becomes a pawn in the rhetoric of the abortion war. She gets no official treatment or support for her health problem. She gets told what she is experiencing does not exist, or 'only happens to women with previous psychological problems'. (As if having a previous psychological problem would suddenly mean that you wouldn't need treatment, support or help for your new problem!?)

The prochoice majority says PASS 'does not exist', and that anti-abortionists are using it to try and scare women away from abortion, and to try to influence lawmakers that abortion is dangerous. The prolifers agree that PASS exists, but they use it (as the prochoicers fear) as a way to discourage abortion, and as a way to help revoke abortion rights. The woman who is suffering is left alone, as the two sides argue, and the medical community stays out of it.

The medical community does not acknowledge PASS as real, because they don't have enough scientific information from research. Where does the money to do research come from? Grants from pharmaceutical companies. The drug companies that fund medical research that allows a disorder to be diagnosed and 'medically accepted' will not go anywhere near research for PASS. Why? Because they don't want to touch the political suicide that anything related to abortion is. RU-486 is being manufactured in China, because no American drug company even considered making it.

The recent RU-486 FDA approval sparked ongoing protests and boycotts of the Searle company that manufactured only a 'partner' drug (Misoprostol aka Cytotec) that works with RU-486. RU-486 is normally used in combination with Misoprostol (Cytotec), an ulcer drug that also causes uterine contractions. RU-486 blocks progesterone, a hormone needed to maintain pregnancy, in a woman's body, and Cytotec, taken a few days later, causes her to miscarry the disrupted pregnancy. Even though Cytotec has been used successfully and safely with RU-486 in Europe over the past ten years, Searle could not take the political pressure. The protest was so strong that it prompted the Searle company to send a letter out warning doctors "not to prescribe the drug to induce an abortion, and only to use it for it's 'approved' use, ulcer treatments."

There is such an uproar over anything related to abortion, that drug companies don't want to fund any research into anything abortion related. Why jeopardize the profitability of all their base drugs, by looking into something controversial, that may bring them protests and boycotts from both sides of the abortion war, regardless of how their research turns out?

So without research dollars to fund the studies, the medical community must keep to it's current theory, that PASS 'does not exist'. Numerous medical illnesses never existed until companies thought they might be able to create a drug to treat them, and therefore make a profit. Once enough money was spent on research for them, the diseases became 'real', and were accepted and promoted as such. PMDD and PPD were two such illnesses. As in the past were schizophrenia, manic depression, high blood pressure and AIDS. But when these illnesses were not 'recognized' by the medical community, and did not have an official name or recommended treatment from the medical community yet, did that mean these diseases did not exist? Does that mean no one suffered, before an official name, treatment and official diagnosis was announced? Of course not.

Even though the causes and reasons for PASS are similar to those for PMDD and PPD, PASS is not recognized as a 'real' illness. The causes of PASS are theorized by me to be hormonal and situational. This has proven to be correct again and again, by women who come to the PASS website, (http://www.afterabortion.com) for help. So are the causes of PMDD and PPD.

Here's some more info from the Sarafem website:
(http://www.sarafem.com)

    "What is PMDD?

    Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD, is a distinct medical condition. It is characterized by intense mood symptoms, such as irritability, sudden mood changes, tension and sadness. PMDD also includes physical symptoms, such as bloating and breast tenderness. Symptoms are limited to the week or two before a woman's period and clearly interfere with day-to-day activities and relationships. PMDD won't go away by itself. And left untreated, it can worsen with age. By understanding what may cause PMDD and what can be done to relieve its symptoms, you can feel more like the woman you are.

    What causes PMDD?

    While PMDD is not fully understood, many doctors believe it is caused by an imbalance of a chemical in the body called Serotonin. The normal cyclical changes in female hormones may interact with these chemicals including Serotonin, and may result in the mood and physical symptoms of PMDD. And although you may seem like you only suffer a few days a month, over time these days can add up to almost one quarter of your childbearing years. The good news is your doctor can now treat PMDD symptoms with a new treatment called Sarafem."

So even though PMDD is "not fully understood", and has numerous symptoms that not every woman gets, that hasn't stopped it from being identified and endorsed. It's recognized that hormonal swings are part of the problem.

Now let's look at some info about PPD:
from (http://www.counseling.org/ctonline/archives/ct0997/ct0997a9.htm)

    "The baby blues are different from postpartum mood disorders in that the baby blues usually subside within a few weeks and do not lead to an inability to function. In postpartum depression, a women's symptoms interfere with her ability to function in her daily life. The condition can start any time during the first postpartum year and, if left untreated, can linger for several years.

    There is not much known about the actual cause of the disorder, although there are several theories. The most accepted theory seems to be that it is a combination of hormonal and situational factors. A woman who has had a mood disorder in the past is at higher risk of developing the disorder. A women who has experienced the disorder after a previous pregnancy has a 50 percent chance of experiencing the disorder again.

    The symptoms of the disorder may include: sluggishness, fatigue, exhaustion; sadness, depression, hopelessness; appetite and sleep disturbances; memory loss; overconcern for the baby; uncontrollable crying; lack of interest in the baby; fear of harming the baby or self; and decreased libido.

    These symptoms can range from mild to severe and often leave the women feeling bewildered. Some women may feel very anxious and show symptoms such as: intense anxiety and/or fear, rapid breathing, fast heart rate, sense of doom, hot or cold flashes, chest pain, shaking, and dizziness.
    Postpartum distress can also include obsessive compulsive features such as: intrusive, repetitive thoughts and avoidance behavior."

Many of these symptoms are also found in women with PASS. In fact, the rapid hormonal changes that accompany the end of a normal pregnancy, also accompany the end of an interrupted pregnancy. When a pregnancy begins, there are hormonal changes that occur. For some women, these hormones produce severe side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, sleeping too much. When a pregnancy ends, the hormonal changes can be just as severe, and can cause PPD or PASS. For more information about PASS, and the symptoms and signs of PASS, check out the FAQS about PASS(http://www.afterabortion.com/faq.html), and the PASS quiz(http://www.afterabortion.com/quiz.html).

Articles that link PMDD to an abortion, or are relevant to this article:

Not every woman who gets her period suffers from PMDD.
But those that do get support, help, and recognition of their problem.

Not every woman who has a baby suffers from PPD
But those that do get support, help, and recognition of their problem.

Not every woman who has an abortion suffers from PASS
But those that do get nothing. They are ignored.

We are out here. Don't ignore us any more.



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