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Premenstrual Syndrome Relapse Affected by Treatment Length

Last Updated: May 07, 2009.

Women with premenstrual syndrome had a higher relapse rate after short-term sertraline treatment compared with long-term treatment, according to research published in the May Archives of General Psychiatry.

THURSDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women with premenstrual syndrome had a higher relapse rate after short-term sertraline treatment compared with long-term treatment, according to research published in the May Archives of General Psychiatry.

Ellen W. Freeman, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data from 174 women with premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Women were randomly assigned to four months (short term) or 12 months (long term) of sertraline treatment, followed by a switch to placebo, for a total of 18 months of treatment and placebo.

During months five through 12, 60 percent of the short-term group and 41 percent of the long-term group experienced relapse, with a significantly lower chance of relapse in the long-term group (hazard ratio, 0.58). Patients with severe symptoms at the beginning were more likely to have relapse (hazard ratio, 2.02). In patients with low symptom severity, the relapse rate wasn't different between the treatment groups.

"The patients who demonstrated remission as defined in the study were significantly less likely to experience relapse than were patients who demonstrated improvement with less complete recovery regardless of the duration of treatment or the severity of symptoms at baseline. These findings indicate that partial recovery is associated with rapid return of symptoms, whereas a more complete recovery, in which symptoms are reduced to approximately the normal postmenstrual level, is associated with a longer delay in symptom recurrence," the authors write.

Pfizer provided sertraline and placebo tablets. Several authors disclosed financial relationships with Pfizer and other companies.

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