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Participants Recruited for Study on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder


New Haven, Conn. — Yale School of Medicine is recruiting participants for a study into a new treatment method for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a severe and debilitating form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

PMDD is believed to affect between three percent and eight percent of women.

Women under medical treatment for PMDD currently take anti-depressants every day, or for half of the menstrual cycle (14-16 days). The goal of the study is to see if the patients feel better by taking the medication only on the days that they are experiencing symptoms. For the majority of PMDD sufferers, that is about six days. The advantages of this are fewer possible side effects from the medication and a lower cost.

The principal investigator, Kimberly Yonkers, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, said subjects will take the anti-depressant sertraline for six months at the onset of symptoms, or will receive a placebo. The goal is to enroll 300 women between the three sites—Cornell University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Yale University.

Yonkers said patients with PMDD experience at least one mood symptom, such as depression, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and feelings that life is not worth living. She said 15 percent of women with PMDD attempt suicide. These symptoms, which occur only premenstrually, are often accompanied by changes in sleep and appetite, changes in energy, breast pain, and bloating—all of which can be severe and lead to disturbances in functioning at home or at work.

“While it is common to trivialize premenstrual disturbances such as PMDD, the illness is serious for the women who are afflicted,” Yonkers said.


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