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Menstrual Cycle Affects Depression Symptoms

For some, depression worsens in the week before

FRIDAY, Feb. 4, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A new finding that the menstrual cycle can affect depressive symptoms could aid doctors in evaluating and treating women suffering from depression.

"Most women who have depression and most doctors who treat depression are unaware that symptoms of depression can fluctuate with the menstrual cycle," study author Dr. Susan G. Kornstein, a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics-gynecology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said in a prepared statement.

Her team tracked symptoms in 433 women diagnosed with major depression. They report that 64 percent of these women said their depression became worse in the five to 10 days before menses. Women who reported this premenstrual exacerbation (PME) of depressive symptoms also experienced a much longer duration (30.7 months) of depression than women who didn't have PME (13.5 months), the researchers added.

Women who reported PME tended to be older and had more general medical problems than women without PME, according to the study.

"Based on our findings, this type of symptom pattern is very common, especially in women who have chronic course depression. Identifying the fluctuation of depressive symptoms in a woman's menstrual cycle will help doctors better evaluate and treat women with depression," Kornstein said.

The study is published in the current issue of Psychological Medicine.

More information

The National Mental Health Association has more about depression in women.

SOURCE: Virginia Commonwealth University, news release, Jan. 27, 2005
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