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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2016 Apr;19(2):271-9. doi: 10.1007/s00737-015-0558-4. Epub 2015 Aug 11.

Relationships between paranoid thinking, self-esteem and the menstrual cycle.

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Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
Institute of Psychology Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.


This study aimed to investigate whether paranoid experiences and levels of self-esteem fluctuate over the menstrual cycle and whether levels of self-esteem are lower when perceived persecution is felt to be deserved. Measures of anxiety, depression, persecution, deservedness and self-esteem were completed on-line by 278 women over their menstrual cycle. Responses were compared at the paramenstrual (3 days before and after menses onset) and mid-cycle phase. At the paramenstrual phase persecution, negative self-esteem, anxiety and depression were higher and positive self-esteem was lower than at mid-cycle. A greater proportion of women experienced persecution as deserved at the paramenstrual phase. This was associated with higher depression and negative self-esteem scores. Increased levels of deservedness significantly strengthened the relationship between persecution and negative, but not positive, self-esteem. These findings suggest that the paramenstrual phase is a time of vulnerability to increased paranoid experiences, an increased likelihood that feelings of persecution will feel deserved and lowered self-esteem. The findings support the view that interpersonal sensitivities may be key to menstrual cycle symptoms and have an impact on relationships. Further, the study illustrated that ideas developed for psychosis could make a valuable contribution to understanding and managing this aspect of menstruation-related distress.


Deservedness; Menstruation; Paranoia; Premenstrual; Self-esteem

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