Studies have shown that depression due to gender bias, often gets in the way of correct diagnosis of psychosocial disorders. In one study, for instance, 175 mental health professionals those are suffering from depression or physical or mental disorder, of both genders, were asked to diagnose a patient based upon a summarized case history. Some of the professionals were told that the patient was male, others that the patient was female. The gender of the patient made a substantial difference in the diagnosis given(though the gender of the clinician did not). When subjects thought the patient was female, they were more likely to diagnose hysterical personality, a “women’s disorder.” When they believed the patient to be male, the more likely diagnosis was antisocial personality, a “male disorder.”
A major controversy regarding gender bias has been the inclusion of a “provisional” diagnosis for premenstrual syndrome(PMS) in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(fourth edition; known as DSM-IV). The provisional inclusion, in an appendix to DSM-IV, signals that PMS should come in for further study and may be included as an approved diagnosis in future editions of the DSM. In other words, PMS could be considered a mental disorder in the future. Depression may be a cause of premenstrual syndrome.
PMS is characterized by depression, irritability, and other symptoms of increased stress typically occurring just prior to menstruation and lasting for a day or two. A more severe case of PMS is known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. The distinction between these disorders is that while PMS is somewhat disruptive and uncomfortable, it does not interfere with the way a woman functions from day to day; PMDD does. To be diagnosed with PMDD, a woman must have at least five symptoms of PMS for a week to 10 days, with at least one symptom being serious enough to interfere with her ability to function at work or at home. In these more severe cases, antidepressants may be prescribed. The point of contention lies in whether administering this treatment indicates that PMDD is viewed as a mental disorder as opposed to a physical disorder. The controversy involves the legitimacy of attaching a label indicating dysfunction and disorder to symptoms experienced only once or twice a month. Further controversy stems from the possible use(or misuse) of the diagnostic label to justify systematic exclusion of women from certain desirable jobs.