Kristen Sparrow • August 21, 2017
Measuring heart rate variability (HRV) is a way to assess the autonomic regulation of the heart. Decreased HRV, indicating reduced parasympathetic tone, has previously been found in depression and anxiety disorders. The objective of this study was to assess HRV in women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). To this end, time domain variables and frequency domain variables were assessed in 28 women with PMDD and in 11 symptom-free controls during both the symptomatic luteal phase and the non-symptomatic follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Two variables reflecting vagal activity in the time domain, the root mean square of differences of successive normal RR intervals (rMSSD) and standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN) were lower in PMDD patients, but this difference was statistically significant in the follicular phase only. The most important vagal measure in the frequency domain, supine high frequency (HF), also appeared lower in PMDD subjects during the follicular phase. It is suggested that PMDD may be associated with reduced vagal tone compared to controls and that this difference is most apparent in the non-symptomatic follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.