Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

The prevalence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder in a randomly selected group of urban and rural women

S. Gehlerta1 c1, I. H. Songa2, C.-H. Changa3 and S. A. Hartlagea4

a1 Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities Research, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

a2 School of Social Work, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA

a3 Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA

a4 Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA


Background Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) was included as a provisional diagnostic category in the appendices of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)-III-R (then called late luteal phase dysphoric disorder) and remained as an appendix in DSM-IV. Our study aimed to determine the prevalence of PMDD using all four DSM-IV research diagnostic criteria in a representative sample of women of reproductive age in the United States.

Method Data were collected in the homes of women between the ages of 13 and 55 years in two urban and two rural sites using a random sampling procedure developed by the National Opinion Research Center. Women completed daily symptom questionnaires and provided urine specimens each day for two consecutive ovulatory menstrual cycles (ovulation was estimated for women taking oral contraceptives) and were screened for psychiatric disorders by trained interviewers. Symptoms were counted toward a diagnosis of PMDD if they worsened significantly during the late luteal week during two consecutive ovulatory menstrual cycles, occurred on days in which women reported marked interference with functioning, and were not due to another mental disorder.

Results In the final analysis, 1246 women who had had at least one menstrual cycle and were neither naturally nor surgically menopausal nor pregnant were selected. Of the women in the study, 1.3% met criteria for the diagnosis as defined in DSM-IV.

Conclusions The prevalence of PMDD is considerably lower than DSM-IV estimates and all but one of the estimates obtained from previous studies when all DSM-IV diagnostic criteria are considered. We suggest a new process for diagnosing PMDD based on our findings.

(Received June 12 2007)

(Revised February 18 2008)

(Accepted February 19 2008)

(Online publication March 26 2008)


c1 Address for correspondence: S. Gehlert, Ph.D., School of Social Service Administration, The University of Chicago, 969 East Sixtieth Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. (Email: