Estrogen, menstrual cycle phases, and psychopathology in women suffering from schizophrenia.

Psychol Med. 2007 Oct;37(10):1427-36. Epub  2007 Apr 24.

Source

Department of General Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany. niels.bergemann@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Estrogen has been hypothesized to have a protective and antipsychotic-like effect in women at risk for schizophrenia. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the association between menstrual cycle and/or estrogen levels and psychotic symptoms in a sample of women with schizophrenia.

METHOD:

One hundred and twenty-five premenopausal women with schizophrenia and regular menses were examined. The levels of 17beta-estradiol and other hormones of the gonadal axis were assessed in the follicular, peri-ovulatory, and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. The effects of the menstrual cycle phase and/or the estradiol level on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) scores were calculated by means of regression analyses.

RESULTS:

Significant improvement in psychotic, but not depressive, symptoms was observed during the luteal phase, compared with other days of the menstrual cycle.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present findings indicate that estradiol may have specific antipsychotic-like effects on the symptoms of schizophrenia. Thus further investigation into the therapeutic effect of estrogen may be worthwhile.

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