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Studies show that symptoms of PTSD change during the menstrual cycle

Washington: Recent studies show that women who experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can change during the menstrual cycle.

This study was published in “Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy Journal.”

Results can affect the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD, according to lead author Dr. Jenna Leader, an assistant professor of psychology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

“When assessing a woman in a cycle, it can actually affect whether a woman meets the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, especially for people at the border,” she said.

“And it’s a veteran and can actually have a real impact on those who are eligible for benefits and for health insurance purposes,” she added.

Estradiol is a type of estrogen that regulates the female reproductive cycle. During the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, elevated estradiol levels trigger a series of events leading to ovulation. Studies have linked the low estradiol portion of the cycle to greater activation in the limbic region of the brain, which is associated with emotions, and lower activation in the prefrontal cortex when displaying emotional content. Low estradiol is also associated with greater stress and anxiety, and increased fear response.

To find out if these connections affect the traumatic response, researchers surveyed 40 women aged 18-33 years. All of these women experienced or witnessed traumatic events such as serious injuries and sexual violence. In the first part of the study conducted in the laboratory, researchers were asked to measure the levels of estradiol in the saliva of participants and then explain to them the trauma that occurred and the PTSD symptoms they experienced. did. last month. They found that the lower the estradiol, the more severe the participants’ self-reported symptoms.

The researchers also measured two stress biomarkers in the participants’ saliva, the hormone cortisol and the enzyme salivary α-amylase, before and after the participants explained their trauma. Salivary α-amylase is associated with a “fight or flight” stress response, and cortisol is associated with a slower, more persistent stress response in the body.

“A healthy system requires a moderate and coordinated response to both of these biomarkers,” says Rieder.

In women with low estradiol in the menstrual cycle, researchers instead found low cortisol and high levels of alpha amylase in saliva, in response to telling the trauma story. This is a pattern associated with maladaptive stress responses in previous studies.

In the second part of the study, researchers answered participants five daily questionnaires (at wake, before bedtime, and three times a day) for 10 days spanning the high and low estradiol parts of the menstrual cycle. I asked you to do it. .. The questionnaire measured how participants felt each time (from “very uncomfortable” to “very comfortable”, from “very non-stimulating or activating” to “very stimulating or activating”). .. Participants also completed the PTSD Symptoms Checklist every night.

On average, researchers found that participants had greater variability in their daily mood during the low estradiol days of their cycle, with more severe PTSD symptoms on those days. I reported.

The findings may affect the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD in women, who have long been underestimated in PTSD studies.

“PTSD has long been studied primarily in men, because it was primarily studied in male veterans,” said Leader.

According to leaders, knowing how the menstrual cycle affects PTSD symptoms, in addition to influencing the diagnosis, can be useful to both clinicians and patients.

“This is what clinicians want to know, so we can convey this knowledge as part of our psychoeducation. For women who are cycling naturally, how the menstrual cycle affects their symptoms. It may be useful to understand. If you can explain what is happening biologically, the threat is often less, “says Leader.

https://www.siasat.com/study-finds-ptsd-symptoms-vary-over-course-of-menstrual-cycle-2251392/ Studies show that symptoms of PTSD change during the menstrual cycle

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