Relapse common among women who stop taking antidepressant medication for premenstrual syndrome

May 04, 2009

About half of women whose symptoms of severe premenstrual syndrome are relieved by the antidepressant sertraline appear to experience relapse within six to eight months after stopping medication, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Women with more severe symptoms and those who took the drug for a shorter period of time may be more likely to relapse.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is one of the most common health problems reported by women of reproductive age, according to background information in the article. Several antidepressant medications, including sertraline hydrochloride, have been approved to treat the most severe form of PMS (known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD). "There is little information about the optimal duration of treatment, although anecdotal reports and small pilot investigations suggest that premenstrual symptoms return rapidly in the absence of effective medication," the authors write.

Ellen W. Freeman, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, conducted an 18-month study involving 174 women with PMS or PMDD. Participants were randomly assigned to either a short-term or long-term treatment group; neither the women nor the researchers knew the treatment assignments. The 87 women assigned to short-term treatment took sertraline for four months and then were switched to placebo for 14 months, while the 87 assigned to long-term treatment took sertraline for 12 months and placebo for six months.

A total of 125 of the 174 patients (72 percent) showed improvement following treatment, most within the first four months. Relapse—defined as a return to the level of symptoms experienced before treatment—occurred in 41 percent of women after long-term treatment (median or midpoint time to relapse, eight months) and 60 percent of women after short-term treatment (median time to relapse, four months).

"Patients with severe symptoms at baseline were more likely to experience relapse compared with patients in the lower symptom severity group and were more likely to experience relapse with short-term treatment," the authors write. "Duration of treatment did not affect relapse in patients in the lower symptom severity group." The 41 patients (24 percent) who experienced remission, or a reduction of premenstrual symptoms to the normal post-menstrual level, after four months of treatment were least likely to experience relapse.

"How long medication should be continued after achieving a satisfactory response and the risk of relapse after discontinuing treatment are important concerns for women and clinicians, given the possible adverse effects and cost of drugs vs. the benefit of medication that improves symptoms, functioning and quality of life," the authors write. "These findings suggest that the severity of symptoms at baseline and symptom remission with treatment should be considered in determining the duration of treatment."

More information: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66[5]:537-544.

Source: and Archives Journals (news : web)

Explore further: Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Premenstrual symptoms getting on your nerves?

Dec 20, 2007

For some women premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a minor monthly annoyance, but for others, more severe symptoms seriously disrupt their lives. However despite the number of women affected, science has yet to offer a full explanation ...

Acitretin therapy may help reduce nail psoriasis

Mar 16, 2009

Low-dose acitretin (a drug used to treat skin psoriasis) therapy appears to reduce nail psoriasis symptoms, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Recommended for you

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

1 hour ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Apr 18, 2014

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

Apr 18, 2014

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.