Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Measures of Personality in Women With Premenstrual Syndrome: A Preliminary Study

Background: Previous studies suggest that women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) differ from those without PMS in measures of personality. The purpose of this study was to measure the effect of menstrual cycle phase on personality variables in women with and without PMS.

Method: The Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-Revised (PDQ-R) was administered in both the follicular and luteal phases to women with PMS (according to National Institute of Mental Health PMS Workshop Diagnostic Guidelines) (N = 40). An asymptomatic control group (N = 20) as well as a symptomatic group of women with DSM-IV-diagnosed recurrent, non-menstrual-cycle-related brief depression (N = 20) also completed the questionnaire in both phases.

Results: Only women with PMS demonstrated a significant increase in total PDQ-R score (reflecting overall personality disorder) from the follicular to the luteal phase (p < .01). Women with PMS had significantly higher total PDQ-R scores than the asymptomatic controls during both the follicular (p < .05) and luteal (p < .01) phases, whereas there was no significant difference between women with PMS and symptomatic controls during either phase. Subscale scores fit similar patterns, as did the number of women in each group meeting a cutoff score indicative of the presence of personality dysfunction.

Conclusion: In this preliminary study, women with PMS were unique in demonstrating a menstrual cycle phase effect on PDQ-R score, while their scores in both phases were closer to symptomatic controls than asymptomatic controls. These findings suggest that personality disorder in women with PMS may have both state- and trait-related components.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(5):337-342