The purpose of the study proposed is to investigate the role of neurosteroids and GABA in
the pathophysiology and treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) by 1) measuring
cortical gama-aminobutyric acid levels (GABA levels) using nuclear magnetic resonance
spectroscopy (MRS) during the follicular and mid-luteal phases of the menstrual cycle pre
and post treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine
(Prozac®, Sarafem®), and 2) correlating cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma GABA and
neurosteroid levels with cortical GABA levels at these same time points. Neurosteroids to be
measured include allopregnanolone, pregnenolone, and pregnenolone sulfate. Findings from
women with PMDD will be compared to those of healthy subjects.
- Aged 18 - 45 years old and able to give voluntary written informed consent.
- Willing to complete a daily log of mood symptoms for 7 consecutive menstrual cycles:
two menstrual cycles during the Screening Phase (Phase 1), one menstrual cycle during
the Testing Phase (Phase 2), and four menstrual cycles during the Medication
Treatment Phase and Post-Treatment Phase (Phase 3). All subjects who successfully
complete Phases 1 and 2, and the Medication Treatment Phase, will be invited to
participate in Phase 3 approximately three months later. Phase 3 will involve
repeating all procedures conducted in Phase 2, including the daily log of mood
- Meet DSM-IV criteria for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, confirmed by the Daily
Record of Severity of Problems (DRSP; Endicott & Harrison) for 2 consecutive
menstrual cycles (Phase 1). The DRSP is a self-rated symptom checklist, which
requires individuals to rate their symptoms of PMDD according to the DSM-IV research
criteria scale on a scale from 1 (symptom not present) to 6 (symptom extreme). During
the last 7 days of the menstrual cycle compared to days 5-11, patients must have a
30% increase in their average (over 2 menstrual cycles) score for 5 of these 10
symptoms. Symptoms must be "not present" or "minimal" during the postmenstrual week.
- Average 19-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) scores < 5 during the
follicular phase and > 16 during the luteal phase.
- Have regular menstrual cycles 28 to 32 days in length. Each of the screening cycles
must be ovulatory as confirmed by plasma progesterone levels of >5 ng/ml during the
- Presence of any other comorbid DSM-IV Axis I disorder.
- Meeting DSM-IV criteria for psychoactive substance (excluding nicotine) dependence
within the preceding 4 months.
- A history of serious medical or neurological illness, including (but not limited to)
major cardiovascular disease, severe hypertension, intracranial mass lesions, seizure
disorder, severe hepatic or renal disease, unstable endocrine or metabolic disease,
and unstable hematologic disease.
- Use of anticonvulsant or benzodiazepines within the last month.
- Use of psychotropic medication in last week (except as stated above).
- Use of steroid contraceptives within the previous 4 months, including birth control
pill, birth control patch, birth control ring, and Depo-Provera®. Subjects will be
asked to use abstinence or the barrier method (condoms) as forms of contraception in
- Alcohol consumption greater than 7 drinks/week.
- Current pregnancy.
- Metallic implants.