RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
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Menstrual cycle effects on amygdala reactivity to emotional stimulation in premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Hormones and Behavior 2012 September
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) with luteal phase related anxiety and mood swings compromise quality of life in around 4% of reproductive women. While anxiety is related to amygdala function, prior studies on amygdala reactivity both in healthy controls and women with PMDD are inconsistent with respect to menstrual cycle effects. Here women with PMDD and healthy controls were exposed to emotional faces during the mid-follicular and late luteal phase, and mean blood-oxygen-level dependence (BOLD) signal changes in the amygdala were determined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Women with PMDD had enhanced bilateral amygdala reactivity in the follicular phase in comparison with healthy controls, but there was no difference between groups during the luteal phase. In contrast, healthy controls displayed higher left amygdala reactivity in the luteal than in their follicular phase. However, among women with PMDD follicular phase progesterone serum concentrations were positively correlated with bilateral amygdala reactivity while depression scores were positively correlated with right amygdala reactivity in the luteal phase. In addition, women with PMDD and high scores on trait anxiety had increased right amygdala reactivity in the luteal as compared to the follicular phase. Finally, amygdala reactivity was more prone to habituation in women with PMDD, as they had enhanced amygdala reactivity in comparison with controls at the first, but not the second scanning session. Thus, while the study failed to indicate increased luteal phase amygdala reactivity in women with PMDD, our findings suggest that anxiety proneness and progesterone levels modulate menstrual cycle related amygdala reactivity in women with PMDD.

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