Vol. 4, No. 4, 1998 Page 7

Anticonvulsants for PMS?

A small percentage of women suffer extreme symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including aggressive, violent, or even murderous behavior.

Dietrich Blumer et al. are exploring the novel theory that severe PMS is related to epilepsy. The researchers note that the symptoms of severe PMS are identical to the symptoms of a well-known epileptic phenomenon known as "interictal dysphoric disorder." Symptoms of both disorders include extreme mood swings, anxiety, a lack of energy, insomnia or hypersomnia, and pain, appearing in an intermittent pattern, together with "a heightened irritability that ranges from increased temper to explosive rage." The researchers note that there is a high incidence of severe PMS among female epileptics, and that epileptic women diagnosed with interictal dysphoric disorder often experience severe symptom exacerbation just before their periods begin.

Interictal dysphoric disorder is treated with anticonvulsants and antidepressants, a regimen that Blumer et al. have now used successfully to treat PMS in women both with and without epilepsy. The researchers hope to test this therapy on larger groups of non-epileptic women who suffer from extreme PMS symptoms.


"To what extent do premenstrual and interictal dysphoric disorder overlap? Significance for therapy," Dietrich Blumer et al., Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 48, 1998, pp. 215-225. Address: Dietrich Blumer, fax: 901-522-2665.

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