It's Official: A Small Dose of Prozac Can Help Beat PMS

By Connor, Steve | The Independent (London, England), September 18, 2010 | Go to article overview
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It's Official: A Small Dose of Prozac Can Help Beat PMS


Connor, Steve, The Independent (London, England)


Treatment could be universally available within two years, writes Steve Connor

The scourge of premenstrual tension, which affects more than half of women and causes physical as well as emotional trauma, could soon be eradicated by a safe, low-dose pill, scientists said yesterday.

A laboratory-based study has found that very low doses of the anti-depression drug Prozac can eliminate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, which include mood swings, tiredness, irritability, headaches and joint pains.

The scientist leading the research said the findings, which have so far been observed in laboratory rats, are strong enough to warrant a full-scale clinical trial with Prozac given that the drug has already undergone the necessary safety tests at the higher doses needed to treat depression. A clinical trial could begin within six months, and if the results are favourable, women could be taking the drug to treat premenstrual syndrome within two years, said Thelma Lovick, a neuroscientist at the University of Birmingham, who led the study.

Not all women have the monthly symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle, but it is estimated that 75 per cent have experienced them at some time and that between 30 and 40 per cent have more severe symptoms that badly affect their work and family lives.

The three-year study, funded by the Medical Research Council, has shown that Prozac taken in doses of about a tenth of that needed to treat depression can stop premenstrual symptoms in rats, animals which show physical and emotional changes, such as increased anxiety and sensitivity to pain, similar to those seen in women. Higher doses of Prozac have been prescribed to women suffering from premenstrual syndrome in the past, especially by doctors in the US, but usually for the treatment of more severe symptoms such as depression.

Dr Lovick told the British Science Festival in Birmingham that Prozac in low doses can affect levels of natural chemicals in the brain that are associated with changes in the female hormone progesterone, which rises and falls during each menstrual cycle.

Although rats have an oestrus cycle rather than a menstrual cycle, they are considered to be a useful model of what happens in humans, Dr Lovick said.

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It's Official: A Small Dose of Prozac Can Help Beat PMS
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