A daily treatment of Prozac could prevent premenstrual syndrome symptoms (PMS), new research has revealed.
Studies on rats have shown that the antidepressant drug can halt the fall of progesterone to block the classic symptoms of anxiousness, moodiness and irritability.
The new research performed by the University of Birmingham shows how the sex hormone affects brain circuits involved in controlling emotions.
When women's progesterone levels drop at the end of each monthly cycle, a progesterone breakdown chemical called allopregnanolone (Allo), which normally regulates the brain circuits controlling emotions, also falls. It's at this point that women begin to suffer from PMS.
In the study, the low daily dose of Prozac slowed down the fall in progesterone levels, alleviating many of the symptoms which disrupt the lives of millions of women and their families.
With the drug already being readily available and commonly prescribed, it is hoped that it could be introduced as a regular treatment for PMS by 2012.
Scientist Dr Thelma Lovick, from the University of Birmingham, who led the research, said: "The implications are quite wide reaching, because potentially we've got available to us a drug which we might be able to tailor, something we could use at a very low dose to ameliorate the development of pre-menstrual syndrome. The time is right to take this into the clinical arena."