Women's experiences of receiving a diagnosis of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: A qualitative investigation

  • Elizabeth Osborn

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


The aim of this thesis was to understand more about women's experiences of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). The thesis is presented as three separate papers. Paper 1 is a systematic review of the literature pertaining to suicidality in women with PMDD. Ten studies from nine different countries were included and synthesised into a discursive narrative review. Results showed that women with PMDD are a high risk group for suicidality, including suicidal thoughts, ideation, plans and attempts. In light of these findings, we concluded that detecting and treating PMDD symptoms was of paramount importance in order to save women's lives. Clinical recommendations were identified. Paper 2 presents the empirical research which sought to explore women's experiences of having and receiving a diagnosis of PMDD. This study used a qualitative individual interview design in which the narratives of 17 women were audio-recorded, transcribed and inductively analysed using a reflexive thematic analysis approach. Twelve subthemes were identified and organised around four main themes: 1) A broken woman, 2) Misdiagnosis and the lost decades, 3) A life transformed and 4) Negotiating the aftermath. Women described great challenges in their attempts to be heard by healthcare professionals, resulting in mental health misdiagnoses and many years of unnecessary psychological suffering. These findings were considered in relation to the wider literature and recommendations were made for improvements to clinical practice. Finally, Paper 3 presents a critical appraisal of the research process, including the rationale underpinning various methodological decisions and the strengths and limitations of the work. This paper concludes with the first author's personal reflections on the thesis project.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAnja Wittkowski (Supervisor) & Joanna Brooks (Supervisor)

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