Background: Premenstrual dysphoria shares certain features with depression and anxiety states, which have been linked to serotonergic dysregulation. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of fluoxetine (which selectively inhibits the reuptake of serotonin) in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoria.
Methods: The trial consisted of a single-blind, placebo washout period lasting two menstrual cycles, followed by a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of fluoxetine at a dose of either 20 mg or 60 mg per day or placebo for six menstrual cycles. Healthy women meeting criteria for what was then called late-luteal-phase dysphoric disorder were recruited at seven university-affiliated women's health clinics in Canada. The primary outcome measure consisted of visual-analogue scales for tension, irritability, and dysphoria during the late luteal phase of each cycle.
Results: Of 405 women enrolled in the placebo washout period, 313 subsequently entered the randomized phase of the study, which lasted six menstrual cycles, and 180 completed it. Fluoxetine at a dose of 20 or 60 mg per day was significantly superior to placebo in reducing symptoms of tension, irritability, and dysphoria, as measured by the visual-analogue scales (P < 0.001). The women who received 60 mg of fluoxetine per day reported significantly more side effects than those who received 20 mg per day or placebo (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Fluoxetine is useful in the treatment of premenstrual dysphoria. Treatment with fluoxetine at a dose of 20 mg per day reduces the potential for side effects while maximizing therapeutic efficacy.