PMS and Depression

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Mood and Menopause

In this podcast, Brett and I are talking about the general issue of contamination of terminology that occurs when the words used in a professional or scientific way become utilized in the common language by everyone. We cite examples of this miscommunication when words that convey a meaning to doctors are misused by the layperson. A good example of the words that were once used to indicate a level of intelligence by psychiatrists, like idiot, imbecile, and moron, now are slang used by lay people to insult instead of describe a medical condition.This has caused professionals to develop new words like profoundly mentally retarded, so that they could communicate with some precision and some science without utilizing emotionally laden terminology.

Examples of this kind of issue occur when people mention PMS and depression. Both terms have scientific meaning and professionals use them to describe a patient’s status. When used by professionals, these words have specific meaning and are cued to specific symptomology. When used by the average person, they are emotionally laden and often are very nonspecific, and imply a negative description about women, bordering on the line of mysogynistic reaction and not science. They lose the impact of science and take on the impact of emotional agendas.

We continue our running discussion of research protocols and how statistics are utilized to make a point rather than just evaluate and interpret data. We refer specifically to an article in the latest issue of Gender Medicine, which presents a study data mining other scientific research for a connection between PMS and Depression. The article concludes that they cannot make a linkage between the two diagnoses not because the research has not been done, but because of the contamination of the terminology. The words PMS and Depression have been corrupted in the vernacular and have lost the precision of their scientific meaning.

I tell a story about an incident in the delivery room that happened to me and how the analysis of that incident led me to be called hysterical and a hormonally reactive woman rather than a competent observing and functioning scientist and doctor, who responded to a real emergency. I hope you find this discussion to be enlightening and stimulating as you listen to Brett and me discuss these realities.