Premenstrual dysphoric disorder and severe premenstrual syndrome in adolescents

Andrea J Rapkin, Judith A Mikacich
Paediatric Drugs 2013, 15 (3): 191-202
Numerous epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that premenstrual disorders (PMDs) begin during the teenage years. At least 20 % of adolescents experience moderate-to-severe premenstrual symptoms associated with functional impairment. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) consists of physical and/or psychological premenstrual symptoms that interfere with functioning. Symptoms are triggered by ovulation and resolve within the first few days of menses. The prevalence of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of PMS accompanied by affective symptoms, is likely equal to or higher than in adults. The diagnosis of a PMD requires a medical and psychological history and physical examination but it is the daily prospective charting of bothersome symptoms for two menstrual cycles that will clearly determine if the symptoms are related to a PMD or to another underlying medical or psychiatric diagnosis. The number and type of symptoms are less important than the timing. Randomized controlled trials of pharmacologic treatments in teens with moderate-to-severe PMS and PMDD have yet to be performed. However, clinical experience suggests that treatments that are effective for adults can be used in adolescents. PMS can be ameliorated by education about the nature of the disorder, improving calcium intake, performing exercise and reducing stress, but to treat severe PMS or PMDD pharmacologic therapy is usually required. Eliminating ovulation with certain hormonal contraceptive formulations or gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists will be discussed. Serotonergic agonists are a first-line therapy for adults, and some serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine and escitalopram can be administered safely to teens.

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