Friday, Oct. 13, 2006
Some women who experience moderate-to-severe premenstrual
syndrome may benefit from treatment with low doses of anti-depressant medication, according to a new
study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher.
In the October
issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers reported that low doses of sertraline taken for two weeks before the onset
of the menstrual period may be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for some
women who experience moderate-to-severe premenstrual syndrome, or
The researchers also tested and found two other
anti-depressant dosing strategies to be effective. One of those dosing
strategies was taking medication daily throughout the menstrual cycle. The
other was waiting until PMS symptoms begin to start medication each cycle,
which is known as 'symptom-onset' dosing. Sertraline is a selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) approved for the treatment of depression and anxiety,
as well as for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of
study is the first to evaluate the use of low-dose antidepressant medication
for women who have moderate-to-severe PMS, and the first placebo-controlled
study to include the novel dosing strategy of 'symptom-onset dosing,'" said Susan G.
Kornstein, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology in
VCU's School of Medicine and lead author
on the study.
findings suggest that women with less severe forms of PMS than PMDD may also
benefit from treatment with antidepressant medication, and they may be able to
take medication only on the days that they are symptomatic," she said.
Up to 60 percent of women suffer from PMS,
while only about 5 percent of women suffer from PMDD. PMS symptoms may
include irritability, depressed mood, anxiety and mood swings, in addition to physical
symptoms such as bloating and breast tenderness. PMDD is characterized by
severe mood symptoms that interfere with functioning.
Previous research studies have focused on the
use of anti-depressants for PMDD. According to Kornstein, women with less
severe symptoms have not received as much attention in treatment studies,
although calcium supplementation has been shown to be helpful.
and her colleagues evaluated
approximately 300 women with PMS from 22 sites throughout the United States. The
participants were randomly assigned to fixed-dose treatment with 25 or 50 mg of
sertraline or given a placebo for four menstrual cycles.
This work was funded by Pfizer, Inc.
Kornstein, is executive director of VCU's Institute for
Women's Health, designated a National Center of Excellence by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, and director of the VCU Mood Disorders
Institute. She collaborated with Teri B. Pearlstein, M.D., from Brown
University School of Medicine; and Rana Fayyad, Ph.D., Gail M. Farfel, Ph.D.,
and John A. Gillespie, Ph.D., who are researchers with Pfizer, Inc.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.