By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Fibroids1
A recent study has shown that brain receptor changes during the menstrual cycle can affect anxiety and exacerbate seizures.
|Could you be suffering from PMDD? |
Feeling sad or hopeless
Irritability and anger
Decreased interest in normal activities
Inability to concentrate
Food cravings and uncontrolled eating
Numerous physical symptoms from bloating to breast tenderness to muscle aches and pains
While some women may cringe at the prospect of being told their periods are responsible for chemical changes that affect the nervous system and panic responses, fearing comparison to the hysteria diagnoses common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the findings may in fact be instrumental in helping medical scientists find new therapies for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD, similar to but more severe than PMS). This is great news for the millions of women who suffer from this well-documented and disruptive byproduct of the menstrual cycle, which affects millions of women worldwide.
The study was the result of UCLA researchers’ attempts to document the neuroscience of the menstrual cycle, and appeared in a recent online edition of Nature Neuroscience.
If supported by further research, the findings could also have applications in the fight against perinatal depression, which is the clinical term used to describe pregnancy-related and post-partum depression, disorders which commonly co-occur during or after pregnancy, noted Istvan Mody M.D., the study’s lead researcher and Coelho professor of neurology at the Reed Neurological Research Center at UCLA's David Geffin School of Medicine.
The findings may lead to “novel therapeutic targets for curing PMDD or catamenial epilepsy, a form of epilepsy in women that is exacerbated during certain stages of the menstrual cycle, or other mental or neurological disorders related to changes in steroid hormone levels,” said Mody. If the findings prove reproducible in humans, he added, “our study would provide some testable predictions about new therapies.”
Based on a study of the estrous cycle in mice (the equivalent of the menstrual cycle in humans), the researchers found that a particular subclass of receptors known as GABAA receptors change in a part of the brain called the hippocampus during the estrous cycle. These changes are linked to altered nerve cell behavior, and in turn altered susceptibility to anxiety and seizures.
The next research goal will be to figure out exactly what the mechanisms behind the changes are, and how they work. “We have to find the molecular identities of the players responsible for changing the number of these receptors on the surface of nerve cells,” said Mody.