Anxiety Symptoms and Anxiety Disorders: How Are They Related to Premenstrual Disorders?

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Premenstrual symptoms are common among young menstruating women, but the psychiatric disorder premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is seen only in approximately 3% of this group. The symptom profile of PMDD has been empirically derived from a number of investigations including a large data base from five university centers. The most commonly reported symptoms are depression and mood swings, but a substantial number of women report tension and anxiety. Lifetime psychiatric illness is also common in women with PMDD, and although mood disorders predominate, past histories of anxiety disorders are also common, further suggesting an association between PMDD and anxiety disorders. The strongest data supporting such an association lie with challenge studies that have been used to provoke panic in panic patients and are effective in precipitating panic attacks in women with PMDD. Finally, treatments that are effective for anxiety disorders are also useful in the treatment of PMDD. In this paper, the above outlined relationship between anxiety disorders and PMDD is reviewed.

J Clin Psychiatry 1997;58(suppl 3):62–67