Objective: To examine dysregulation in biological measures associated with histories of abuse in women and whether women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) differ in their dysregulation.
Design: Twenty-five women meeting prospective criteria for PMDD and 42 non-PMDD controls underwent structured interview to determine abuse histories and lifetime Axis I diagnoses, excluding those with current Axis I disorders or using medications.
Major outcome measures: Plasma cortisol and norepinephrine (NE), heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), and vascular resistance index (VRI) were assessed at rest and in response to mental stress.
Results: A greater proportion of PMDD women had prior abuse compared with non-PMDD women. Regardless of PMDD status, all abused women had lower plasma NE and higher HRs and tended to have lower plasma cortisol at rest and during stress. Abused women also reported more severe daily emotional and physical symptoms. Greater VRI and BP at rest and during stress were seen only in PMDD women with abuse.
Conclusion: There is persistent dysregulation in stress-responsive systems in all abused women that cannot be accounted for by current psychiatric illness or medications, and PMDD women may be differentially more vulnerable to the impact of abuse on measures reflecting alpha-adrenergic receptor function.
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