Prozac hailed as key to ending misery of PMS

John von Radowitz

A low daily dose of Prozac could end pre-menstrual misery for millions of women and their families, research suggests.

Tests on rats have shown that the antidepressant drug acts on the brain to block symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Scientists believe it could make a big difference to the 50pc of women who are tormented by PMS each month a week or so before the start of their period.

Symptoms include anxiety, mood swings, tiredness, irritability, depression and loss of confidence.

There may also be physical effects such as headaches, feeling bloated and breast tenderness.

The new study shows that Prozac -- the drug fluoxetine -- interferes with the way falling levels of the sex hormone progesterone affect emotion circuits in the brain.

Since the drug is already safety tested and commonly prescribed, it could be made widely available as a PMS treatment in as little as two years, say researchers.


Scientist Dr Thelma Lovick, from the University of Birmingham, who led the research, said: "Premenstrual syndrome doesn't need any introduction. Everyone's heard of it, and about 50pc of women experience it, and a lot of men are at the receiving end of it. Yet we still haven't sorted it out.

"Part of the reason is we really don't quite know what causes it, but one thing we do know about premenstrual syndrome is that it corresponds to a change in production of one of the sex hormones, progesterone.

"We've given low doses of fluoxetine to our rats one day before they go into their premenstrual phase and completely blocked the development of premenstrual symptoms.

"The implications are quite wide-reaching, because potentially we've got available to us a drug which we might be able to tailor, something we could use at a very low dose to ameliorate the development of premenstrual syndrome. The time is right to take this into the clinical arena."