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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar;202(3):221-31. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.07.061.

Menstrual cycle-related exacerbation of disease.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Virginia, PO Box 801104, Northridge Ste. 104, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA. jvp9u@Virginia.EDU


Exacerbation of common medical and mental health disorders at specific phases of the menstrual cycle is a prevalent phenomenon. Although the precise cause is unclear, studies implicate complex interactions between the immune and neuroendocrine systems. The menstrual cycle also is a trigger for the onset of depressive disorders, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a disorder specific to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, and depression associated with the transition to menopause. This article discusses common mental health problems exacerbated by the menstrual cycle, with a particular focus on premenstrual dysphoric disorder and perimenopausal depression. Throughout the reproductive lifespan, routine screening and assessment for the presence of common psychiatric disorders are critical for accurate diagnosis and provision of effective treatment. Management options include referral or consultation with a primary care provider or psychiatrist; treatment options for premenstrual dysphoric disorder and perimenopausal depression include pharmacotherapy with antidepressant agents and/or psychotherapy. Hormones may be helpful.

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