The Good Bad News about PMS and Women’s Brains

List of common symtpoms of PMS
List of common symtpoms of PMS

I am writing this blog about PMS and the brain as a response to psychologist, Robyn Stein Deluca’s TED Talk on PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome. And I do so in honor of Brain Awareness Week 2015.

TED Talk by Robyn Stein DeLuca: The good news about PMS

Let me share that I am shocked at Robyn’s unscientific approach to the syndrome of PMS, which is reported to be associated with a spectrum of physical and emotional health problems. In my 23 years of public health brain research, and in my drumming for the brain work with special populations, including, women’s health, I’ve seen countless examples of how physical disorders actually affect brain health, and how disorders of the brain affect physical health. It’s no longer a mystery. The real question is, what to do about it? So I left the comment below on Robyn’s TED talk page. I hope she and others read it.

Brain health and mental health is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.
Brain health and mental health is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.

Let’s use 2015 Brain Awareness Week to take a fresh look at PMS.

Migraine headache can get you out of your routine
Migraine headache can get you out of your routine

As a scientist, my gut sense is that PMS is rooted more in the brain’s sensitivity to changes in hormones. For instance, women are far more affected by thyroid, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. They are more likely to feel empathy and have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin. Women also are able to “entrain” their menstrual cycles readily to each other, which is a function of their sensitivity. So, it would seem with this increased sensitivity to emotions, hormonal changes, and activities going on around them, that women could also suffer problematic physical changes in the brain and body from this resulting sensativity. Interestingly, I suspect there are similarities with PMS to that of PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, where for one cause or another, an individual’s brain is less able to process sensory information, and the results are physical changes in the brain, and eventually, in their overall health. Where PMS is a women’s syndrome, PTSD more disproportionately affects men.

Excedrin is used to help manage pain associated with migraine headache.
Excedrin is used to help manage pain associated with migraine headache.

Migraines more disproportionately affect women likely due to their higher hormonal activity and lower hydrostatic pressure in the brain from lower blood volume, and brain pressures. I’ve written about how weather apps and web sites can help in managing weather induced migraine headache.

Weather Apps helpful in Managing Weather Related Migraine Headache

Barometric Pressure graph reveals steep drop and rise which can trigger micraine headache
Barometric Pressure graph reveals steep drop and rise which can trigger micraine headache

Weather related low barometric pressure then is also more likely to induce migraine and hypotensive states in women, than in men. And, the slight loss of blood associated with menstruation, can cause a slight drop in blood pressure and exacerbate migraine syndromes. Together with each woman’s unique psychological makeup, these factors lend itself to a problematic cause & effect of mechanisms that impact brain health in women. Conversely, PTSD seems to affect women far less than men. So it would seem there are some unique health advantages to women’s physiology and brain health.

In support of women’s health, I put on drum circles and drumming events for women’s groups, and for women and others in the workplace.

Drumming for Wellness

Women were ecstatic at this year's women's drum circle at an Orange County area temple.
Women were ecstatic at this year’s women’s drum circle at an Orange County area temple.

Drumming for Workplace Wellness

Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.
Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.

Women tend to suffer fewer problems with homelessness, and drug and alcohol addiction, than their male counterparts.

Homelessness Affects Men far more than Women
Homelessness Affects Men far more than Women

This appears to be rooted in differences in the male versus female brains. One difference is with the neurochemical, oxytocin, widely regarded as the “love hormone,” which is found in higher levels in women than in men. But men who are active in community outreach and charitable activities, tend to have higher oxytocin levels. There is now an oxytocin nasal spray which has been greeted with mixed results. More recently, when I consider the plight of area homeless people and their associated mental health challenges, I can’t help but wonder whether oxytocin spray might help them, or whether their helping at an area outreach project might boost oxytocin levels, and help normalize wider brain function. Change has to begin somewhere. Here’s a related study:

Outreach can raise Oxytocin Levels (The Guardian)

In September 2015, I gave an in-depth presentation on how methods of alternative medicine can be used in drug and alcohol addiction, and covered related sensory processing disorder and cognitive accessibility. I also own the domain for CognitiveAccessibility.org.

Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er CognitiveAccessibility.org
Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er CognitiveAccessibility.org

Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine
Illustration of the Meridian fields used in Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine

In my 23 years of being involved in brain care and public health as both a patient and researcher, I’ve seen countless examples of how the prevailing views can be wrong. And Robyn’s dismissal of PMS as a physical syndrome, would appear to be wrong. I also think an mHealth app, coupled with blood work, counseling as needed, exercise, and wellness strategies, could be very helpful in management of PMS.

mHealth Apps in Neurology
mHealth Apps in Neurology

I am concerned with how Robyn Deluca glosses over the obviousness of PMS as NOT having “measurable medical sequela.” Instead, she attempts to label it a mental health or psychiatric disorder.

Avoidable deaths from medical errors in the U.S.
Avoidable deaths from medical errors in the U.S.

I think PMS should be labeled an actual disorder, a bit like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where both are a collection of physical complaints secondary to stress and sensitivities in physiology. The medical field seems intent on denying the existance of both of these, as it similarly has with SPD. I have found shooting baskets to be a wonderful mindfulness therapy for stress and SPD related complaints, and authored this blog.

Sports Science vs the Brain Science of Basketball

Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball
Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball

Over the longer term, untreated brain health issues can result in the development of sensory processing disorder, or SPD, which is a collection of real neurological complaints that the U.S. government continues to refute today. I’ve written a great deal on this topic.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves
Brain Diagram of the Cranial Nerves

Apparently, PMS is a heated topic. I was attached by a fellow reader after I initially posted my impressions on Robyn’s conclusions on PMS. I hope those of you with firsthand experience who work with PMS patients will continue to voice your views against the politics of medicine.

Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for the FDA's Hydrocephalus STAMP Conference in 1999.
Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for the FDA’s Hydrocephalus STAMP Conference in 1999.

To learn more about my work, contact me at Dolle Communications.

Stephen Dolle
Drum circle Facilitator & Neuroscientist
Public Health Advocate
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com
Web site: Dolle Communications
Telephone: (949) 642-4592

Drum Off for Hydrocephalus Awareness

Drumming workshop for balance and movement challenges in living with hydrocephalus
Drumming workshop for balance and movement challenges in living with hydrocephalus

OK. This Thursday Sept. 24, 2015 I will feature two drumming workshops for hydrocephalus to address balance, cognition, and movement at the NHF Patient Power conference at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim, CA. SEE registration info in the flyer. The workshops are free. But there’s a $50 conference fee.

Notre Dame Drumline Friday Afternoon Drummers Circle

I am offering to organize a “DRUM OFF FOR HYDROCEPHALUS” and have it VIDEOTAPED and posted on YouTube. Then, I’d be looking for others around the world affected by hydrocephalus, or interested in helping the cause, to organize their own drum circle with instruments of their culture and region, and post a video of their DRUM-OFF on YouTube – so we may have an international conversation on hydrocephalus. I’ve enclosed the video of the Notre Dame drum off for breast cancer as an example.

I had hoped to do this at the 2015 NHF Conference on Sept. 24th or 25th in Anaheim, CA. But I’m informed the schedule cannot fit it in. We have hydrocephalus groups around the world, and in remote places like Nigeria. I’d love to involve our global “hydro brothers & sisters” in a global “drum off for hydrocephalus.” I envision it as a bit like “Playing for Change” too. And if someone wanted to edit some of the drum segments and create one master song, I’d be very excited for that.

Along with the Drum-off for Hydrocephalus, I’d like to also feature the web site HydroPowered.org – which I created two years ago to further hydrocephalus awareness, and to allow those affected by hydrocephalus to come together to share art, technology, super hero stories, and fun stuff separate from their medical stories.

My Story on HydroPowered.org

I have personally been living with the disorder hydrocephalus since 1992, and I would be participating in this as organizer, drummer, facilitator, and affected patient. As a patient advocate, I’ve been involved in advocacy, public policy, and the development of mHealth technology hydrocephalus. Still today it remains complicated by a lack of medical research and innovation in new treatments, CNS shunt and diagnostic technology, and awareness.

HydroPowered.org Share the Passion for Hydrocephalus
HydroPowered.org Share the Passion for Hydrocephalus

So I need an alternative 2015 venue to hold the Drum-off for Hydrocephalus if I want it done this year. I have enough instruments for 75-100 people, though we ideally only need 30-50 playing. And I will invite 10 or so experienced drummers to help in supporting the drumming. I need to have someone be responsible for videotaping the performance, and perhaps some interviews. I and others I know have video cameras, or even a phone camera might do. But editing the video takes some skill. I can only do basic editing for posting on YouTube. I will also need to have a banner made (VistaPrint) saying “Hydrocephalus Drum-Off, Orange County, CA.” And this can be displayed with the video on YouTube. Once I have a date and location selected, I can post updates here and on http://www.HydroPowered.org site and Facebook group.

I will still be offering two drumming workshops at the National Hydrocephalus Foundation PATIENT POWER conference on Sept. 24th 2015. This would allow individuals and families affected by hydrocephalus to come together and experience the POWER of the drum, and the POWER of connectedness for hydrocephalus.

National Hydrocephalus Foundation (NHF)

NHF Logo
NHF Logo

NHF PATIENT POWER Conference Agenda

https://www.facebook.com/events/1471103479847030/

Below, is a video from a drum circle I put on in 2012 for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, and it was part of the 2012 Young Onset Parkinson’s Conference in Orange County, CA.

OC Conference 2012 030.MOV

 

Drumming for wellness helps seniors and those facing chronic illness
Drumming for wellness helps seniors and those facing chronic illness
Drum Circles make for great Children's Activity as young as age 3.
Drum Circles make for great Children’s Activity as young as age 3.

Hydrocephalus effects about 1 in 1000 infants & young children, and occurs in seniors as the disorder NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus), and it also occurs to others following head trauma, hemorage, tumor, cyst, and often occurs secondary to spina bifida, Dandy-Walker, Arnold-Chiari, and meningitis. In children, it is the most commonly performed neurosurgical procedure. It poses numerous diagnostic challenges to physicians, families, and those living with it. Hydrocephalus is treated the same around the world, mostly by implanting a CNS shunt. So, a mHealth mobile or software app would help individuals in the U.S. as well as developing countries like Africa & S. America.

Seniors came alive to play and dance during this 2010 drum circle at the Costa Mesa senior center.
Seniors came alive to play and dance during this 2010 drum circle at the Costa Mesa senior center.
Drumming is a great tool in teambuilding and in engaging those around you
Drumming is a great tool in teambuilding and in engaging those around you

In developing countries, hydrocephalus is even more tragic and fatal. Doctors without borders and other organizations, often travel to developing countries to perform initial surgeries. But since shunt failure is a common occurance, follow up diagnostics and availability to corrective surgery presents additional challenges. The availability of a mobile software app to collect and document developing patient status information would help save lives and minimize shunt complications. A diagnostic mobile app could offer early critical diagnostic information on device function and patient status.

Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for 1999 STAMP Conference
Stephen Dolle in Washington, D.C. for 1999 STAMP Conference

The purpose of the “Hydrocephalus Drum-Off” is to raise awareness of hydrocephalus, and to help with fundraising and funding of hydrocephalus research in the U.S. and worldwide.

Related Blogs and Information

Spread Awareness of Hydrocephalus on Rare Disease Day 2015

Cause Marketing Web Site for Hydrocephalus uses Super-Hero Theme

Fundraising for Hydrocephalus: Follow the Creators of the Ice Bucket Challenge

Hydrocephalus Monitoring Method Hopes to be new mHealth App

How the Internet is like one big DRUM CIRCLE

Contact me through my web site my information here. 

Stephen Dolle

Dolle Communications

How the Internet is like one big DRUM CIRCLE

Internet Access Screenshot

Have you ever viewed the Internet as a big DRUM CIRCLE? Think again.

Drummers play and perform at this drum circle every Sunday at Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, CA
Drummers play and perform at this drum circle every Sunday at Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach, CA

In this TED talk, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet gives his view of a world-wide & open Internet, with free and open participation on the web. I’ll take the Internet a step further, and equate it as one massive “drum circle,” where each user freely makes their own contribution, and then the whole is more than the sum of the individual parts. Some of the TED Talk comments here support my reasoning. Still others describe the Internet further as an integral part of the “noosphere,” the collective thought of all people on Earth.

Prosperity is based on sound information.
Prosperity is based on sound information.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee TED Talk

Additional resources on his vision

Description of the Noosphere

Internet controlled drum circle at Calit2, University of California in Irvine

Drumming is based on brain science!

This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music
This music and the brain illustration depicts the areas of the brain involved in listening and playing music

Drumming in the Workplace

Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.
Drum circles aid productivity and stress reduction for employees at this area Orange County firm.

Drumming for Wellness

Seniors came alive in this 2010 drum circle for wellness and movement.
Seniors came alive in this 2010 drum circle for wellness and movement.

Drumming Case Study in Autism

Drumming with Children aids Movement and Coordination
Drumming with Children aids Movement and Coordination

Contact me for more information.

Stephen Dolle
Drum Circle Facilitation
Dolle Communications
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com