ST. PETERSBURG, FL, April 2020 — The Sunshine Skyway Bridge will turn teal on Friday, April 3 from 7 p.m. until 11:59 p.m. as a show of support for a little known, debilitating and life-threatening female health condition that is underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed or dismissed entirely by many in the medical community.
The Skyway Bridge is among more than 30 global icons being “ignited” in color during April to bring awareness to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a cyclical, hormone-based mood disorder that impacts approximately 1 in 20 women and AFAB (assigned female at birth) individuals of reproductive age – a staggering 60 million worldwide – yet most people have never heard of it. Among the other structures turning teal are Niagara Falls, USA; SkyPoint, Gold Coast, AU; Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Florida; Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, UK; Perth Bell Tower, Australia; Aloha Tower, Hawaii; Cira Centre, FMC Tower, and Cira Garage, Philadelphia; Reconciliation Bridge, Calgary.
“Igniting these iconic structures in teal symbolizes a show of hope for those who suffer – after years of being unseen and unheard – the tide is turning and we are putting PMDD in the limelight,” according to Sandi MacDonald, Executive Director, International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD), the global leader of PMDD support and education. “The theme for this year’s awareness month is IGNITE THE FIGHT Against PMDD and this is a perfect gesture to show sufferers across the globe that PMDD awareness is growing and they no longer need to suffer alone.”
PMDD is a cyclical, hormone-based mood disorder with symptoms including severe depression, mood swings, irritability or anxiety in the two weeks before menstruation. It takes an average of 12 years to be correctly diagnosed. The debilitating condition takes a toll on sufferers’ ability to work and maintain relationships with partners and family and drastically increases the risk of suicidal behaviors. Preliminary findings from the 2018 Global Survey of Premenstrual Disorders* indicate that 30% of patients with PMDD reported they had attempted suicide to escape their symptoms.
“We’re thrilled to have PMDD recognized in Tampa Bay by turning the Skyway teal,” according to Ms. Brett Buchert, Co-Founder of Me v PMDD Symptom Tracker app and Peer Support Director for IAPMD. “We hope that it empowers people around the world to help ‘IGNITE the Fight Against PMDD’. With awareness comes compassion and, most importantly, research and a cure.” added Buchert.
The global icons will be illuminated in teal, PMDD’s signature color, which brilliantly symbolizes emotional balance and stability. A full schedule of lightings is available online.
The Skyway Bridge illumination is part of the PMDD Awareness Month, led by a coalition of organizations including IAPMD, Me v PMDD and Vicious Cycle: Making PMDD Visible. Resources to support awareness-building are available on pmddawarenessmonth.org.
While PMDD is directly connected to the menstrual cycle, it is not a hormone imbalance but rather a severe neurobiological reaction to the natural rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. Symptoms occur the week or two before menstruation and go away a few days after bleeding begins. There is no blood or saliva test to diagnose PMDD, but these tests can rule out other underlying disorders. Diagnosis is done by tracking symptoms for at least two menstrual cycles. As noted above, women and AFAB individuals with PMDD are at an increased risk for suicidal behavior. Although PMDD has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for years, it continues to be disregarded or misunderstood by doctors and the general public.
*Note that these are findings of the 2018 Global Survey of Premenstrual Disorders and IAPMD’s internal analyses aimed at understanding the scope of the problem of premenstrual disorders.