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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT

Severe PMS Made Better With Longer Treatments

May 8, 2009

Recent studies report that women suffering severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) who take sertraline, more commonly known as Zoloft, for 4 months face higher risks for reoccurrence than women who practice 12 month regiments of the medication, Reuters Health indicated. 

Irritability, fatigue, stomach cramps, and other forms of mood or physical discomfort are often experienced by women just before they begin their monthly period, but mostly these symptoms are mildly disruptive.  However, if they are more severe and begin to interfere with daily functionality and relations with others, the condition is termed PMS. 

In an article published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Dr. Ellen W. Freeman and team noted that although antidepressants like sertraline can alleviate PMS, the length of time women should undergo this treatment after an effective response has been witnessed is still uncertain. 

To research this unknown, a team of scientific investigators with the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, studied relapse rates and other associated outcomes in 174 patients who were prescribed sertraline therapy for 4 or 12 months. 

Results found that 60 percent of women who underwent 4 month treatments had a reoccurrence, while in women who practiced 12 month regiments only 41 percent experienced a relapse.  With short-term therapy, the average time to relapse was 4 months, and with long-term therapy it was 8 months. 

Duration of sertraline treatment only made a marked difference in women with very severe symptoms of PMS, researchers learned. 

Additionally, Freeman’s group indicates that women who had a total remission of symptoms “were much less likely to experience relapse regardless of treatment duration or the severity of symptoms at baseline.”

“This is a compelling indication of the importance of seeking remission as the goal of treatment of PMS,” the team concluded.

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