Objective: Although its etiology is unknown, it has been hypothesized that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is linked to a deficiency of central serotoninergic activity. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of fluoxetine, a specific serotonin uptake inhibitor, on PMS symptoms.
Methods: Following extensive screening, including several psychological inventories, eight women with severe persistent PMS participated in a 6-month double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study which included three months each of daily fluoxetine 20 mg or placebo, administered in a randomized order. Symptoms were evaluated using the Calendar of Premenstrual Experiences and other psychometric measures.
Results: Compared with placebo, treatment with fluoxetine was associated with an improvement in PMS symptoms as judged by highly significant decreases in behavioral (P less than .005), physical (P less than .05), and total (P less than .005) Calendar of Premenstrual Experiences scores; Beck Depression Inventory scores (P less than .005); Profile of Mood States subscales scores including depression (P less than .005), tension (P less than .005), and anger (P less than .01); and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory scores. The use of fluoxetine was associated with a greater mean reduction in behavioral (75%) than in physical scores (40%), with a mean decrease in total Calendar of Premenstrual Experiences scores of 62%, which rendered these scores similar to follicular phase values. Thus, the luteal phase symptomatology of PMS was effectively abolished. At this dose, no significant side effects or complications were noted during treatment.
Conclusion: Fluoxetine appears to be a highly effective, well-tolerated treatment for the psychological and physical symptoms accompanying severe PMS.