Dysregulation of cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to stress in premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Susan S. Girdler, Cort A. Pedersen, Patricia A. Straneva, Jane Leserman, Catherine L. Stanwyck, Sara Benjamin, Kathleen C. Light

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Twelve women with prospectively confirmed premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PDD) were compared with 12 healthy control subjects for cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to speech and mental arithmetic (Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task) stressors during both the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Structured clinical interview was used to assess psychiatric and abuse histories, and standardized questionnaires were administered to assess current life stress. Results revealed that PMDD women had significantly lower stroke volume, cardiac output and cortisol levels but significantly elevated norepinephrine and total peripheral resistance at rest and also during mental stressors compared with control subjects. These effects were evident in both cycle phases. Significantly more women with PMDD had histories of sexual abuse, and they also reported greater current life stress than control subjects. Consistent with a history of trauma, the PMDD women exhibited significantly greater ratios of norepinephrine to cortisol at rest and during stress. These results are interpreted as reflecting dysregulation of the stress response and may be related to histories of severe and/or chronic exposure to stress for a subgroup of PMDD women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-178
Number of pages16
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 16 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortisol
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Norepinephrine
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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