Vicious Cycle has joined forces with the Gia Allemand Foundation (U.S) and Me v PMDD Inc in a joint statement expressing shock at the negligent behaviour and dismissive attitudes towards PMDD sufferers aired on The Doctors TV talk show recently.
Following the response of many viewers, the statement outlines the realities of living with this condition and requests an apology.
BOSTON, MA, November 21, 2017 — Women are appalled by the sexist and negligent behavior of trained medical professionals on The Doctors TV talk show and won’t stand for inaction.
An episode of The Doctors on “period rage,” aired earlier this month, has justifiably outraged the sufferers of this life-threatening condition and empowered them to speak out against the blatant sexism and gaslighting by the medical professionals on the show. Airing during what’s been called a watershed moment for sexual harassment and abuse in America, the program featured the doctors discussing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) in a highly sexist manner that left viewers questioning whether these doctors ever took the Hippocratic Oath – to do no harm.
Doctors Travis Stork and Andrew Ordin laughed and joked about PMDD, a chronic and debilitating condition that leads 15 percent of the sufferers to attempt suicide, and left Dr. Nita Landry, the only female on the program, visibly uncomfortable. Women, many PMDD sufferers, took the matter online where they chastised the healthcare providers for blatantly mocking an extremely serious medical condition.
“Using inflammatory and stigmatizing terms like ‘crazy’ and ‘hormonal’ to dismiss the debilitating symptoms of the disorder is never acceptable,” said Amanda LaFleur, Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Gia Allemand Foundation for PMDD. This international nonprofit organization advocates for the prevention, treatment, and research of PMDD, founded in memory of the late model and actress Gia Allemand who died by suicide from her battle with PMDD. “The show had a wonderful opportunity to reach more women, trans, and non-binary sufferers and guide them to help and resources, but instead, they chose to openly laugh and minimize those who may suffer from PMDD or Premenstrual Exacerbation of an underlying disorder (PME).”
The PMDD community has responded strongly with a petition started by Jessie Dee of Australia requesting a public apology from The Doctors and a follow-up episode to give those with PMDD and PME the respect and visibility they deserve. In addition, a letter will be hand-delivered to producers of the show and plans are being discussed for more direct protest against the program and its production studio.
“As a public television show that is ‘supposed’ to help people become informed of possible health issues that might impact their life, YOU FAILED!” said Wilmari Eckerson, in a powerful open letter published on her blog, A Committed Heart. “The Doctors failed to appropriately address and inform women of an illness that can possibly cause them enough harm that they would want to end their own lives! It was a disservice to every single woman on the face of the earth.”
“It’s time that we rise up against lack of awareness and understanding of PMDD in the medical community and beyond and fight for the respect and access to treatment options we deserve,” says Brett Buchert, co-founder of the PMDD symptom tracking app, Me v PMDD. “Living with PMDD is hard enough. Talking to doctors about it and getting help can’t be an obstacle anymore.”
PMDD is a suspected genetic disorder caused by the body’s abnormal response to the normal hormonal changes during one’s menstrual cycle. PMDD affects approximately 1 in 20 women of reproductive age. Sufferers experience significant mood symptoms which occur only in the luteal phase or second half of the menstrual cycle roughly one to two weeks before their period. These mood symptoms can include severe depression, anxiety, irritability/rage, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts. Although physical symptoms like breast tenderness, bloating, and severe fatigue are typically also present, the mood component is what drives the diagnosis of PMDD. Although included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for years, PMDD is often disregarded or misunderstood by doctors and non-sufferers. At best, this leads to the underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of this serious reproductive health disorder. At worst, this lack of understanding leads to the very harmful ridicule and shaming of women suffering from PMDD as evidenced by this episode.
For more resources and information on PMDD, please visit giaallemandfoundation.org.
Co-Founder & Executive Director, Gia Allemand Foundation
Sheila H. Buchert
Co-Founder & COO, Me v PMDD, Inc.
Project Co-Founder/Director, Vicious Cycle