Scientists of the Institute of Cognitive Sciences of Man and the Brain. Max Planck in Leipzig found that premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD, a severe form of PMS) increases the density of serotonin carrier proteins at a certain period of the cycle. This discovery will help in the development of new treatments for the disorder. The results of the study are published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Premenstrual syndrome, which includes pain as well as depression and mood swings, affects about half of women a few days before their period starts. However, approximately 3-8% of women have PMDD, which has more severe symptoms within two weeks.
Previous studies have shown that ovarian hormone fluctuations do not differ between women with PMDD and healthy women. This means that the cause of severe PMS is not associated with hormones. Scientists suggest that the problem lies in the wrong reaction of the brain to these hormones.
During the follicular phase of the monthly cycle, one of the dominant hormones is estradiol. Due to its high level in women, the density of serotonin carrier proteins increases by 18% until the onset of menstruation. Scientists came to such data after comparing the results of positron emission tomography of 30 patients with PMDD and 29 healthy ones.
“The serotonin transport protein moves serotonin from the synapse back to the axon and reduces the availability of serotonin at the synapse. The more active carrier proteins, the stronger the person feels depressive symptoms. It is likely that treating PMDD with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are used to treat depression, will lead to rapid relief of symptoms,” the researchers concluded.