Changes in mood, cognitive performance and appetite in the late luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle in women with and without PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)

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Abstract

Although it's been reported that women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) have increased negative mood, appetite (food cravings and food intake), alcohol intake and cognitive deficits premenstrually, few studies have examined these changes concurrently within the same group of women or compared to women without PMDD. Thus, to date, there is not a clear understanding of the full range of PMDD symptoms. The present study concurrently assessed mood and performance tasks in 29 normally cycling women (14 women who met DSM-IV criteria for PMDD and 15 women without PMDD). Women had a total of ten sessions: two practice sessions, 4 sessions during the follicular phase and 4 sessions during the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Each session, participants completed mood and food-related questionnaires, a motor coordination task, performed various cognitive tasks and ate lunch. There was a significant increase in dysphoric mood during the luteal phase in women with PMDD compared to their follicular phase and compared to Control women. Further, during the luteal phase, women with PMDD showed impaired performance on the Immediate and Delayed Word Recall Task, the Immediate and Delayed Digit Recall Task and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test compared to Control women. Women with PMDD, but not Control women, also showed increased desire for food items high in fat during the luteal phase compared to the follicular phase and correspondingly, women with PMDD consumed more calories during the luteal phase (mostly derived from fat) compared to the follicular phase. In summary, women with PMDD experience dysphoric mood, a greater desire and actual intake of certain foods and show impaired cognitive performance during the luteal phase. An altered serotonergic system in women with PMDD may be the underlying mechanism for the observed symptoms; correspondingly, treatment with specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) remains the preferred treatment at this time.

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