Sudden mood swings, depression, irritability, anger, lack of concentration, apathy and sleepiness, but also abdominal bloating and muscle pain: these are some of the symptoms many women suffer from just before their menstrual cycle shows up. A problem known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The good news is that, according to a Swedish study (, a new treatment has been derived, that does not resort to antidepressants, rather employs progesterone – a hormone – typically used as an emergency contraceptive.

Ulipristal acetate is a drug that inhibits progesterone receptors in the brain and has long been used for treating uterine fibroids and endometriosis. Swedish researchers from the University of Uppsala and from the Karolinska Institutet claim that the drug is also effective, as a therapy, in treating PMDD, representing an alternative solution to the one currently in use, which exploits the inhibitors of the reuptake of serotonin, antidepressants that are actually not appropriate for some women.

“It would be desirable – Uppsala researchers say – to have a treatment that more specifically addresses the mechanisms underlying this psychiatric disorder”. That is why the researchers are working to understand the underlying cerebral mechanisms of the premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Bernardo Dell’Osso, professor of psychiatry at the Milan University and head of the psychiatric clinic of the Sacco Hospital in Milan, commented on the research: “The results of this research seem to be particularly interesting because they evaluate the effects new drugs that feature a different mechanism compared to that of traditional antidepressants, which act by selectively adjusting progesterone receptors. Indeed, physicians – and psychiatrists above all – are well aware that women are more exposed than men to the risk of developing depression, and this is clearly linked to the fluctuations of estroprogestinic levels, which occur in certain situations. It is reasonable to think that mood is affected by the fluctuating levels of the aforesaid hormones and consequently, that in patients suffering from a dysphoric disorder, the typical symptoms are specifically triggered by such fluctuations”.