The Zurich Study

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Summary

This paper reports on the prevalence of emotional and somatic symptoms of the pre- and peri-menstrual phases of the female reproductive cycle among women who participated in a 10-year prospective epidemiologic cohort study of young adults in Zurich, Switzerland. The association between menstrual syndrome and sociodemographic features, personal habits, and psychopathologyis investigated. The findings confirm those of previous studies, which have shown that symptoms of menstrual syndrome are quite common in non-clinical samples in the community, and increase with age. Women with menstrual problems could be distinguished from other women in a number of domains, including demographic characteristics such as nulliparity, higher educational level, distressing life events, lack of oral contraceptive use, psychiatric disorders, and personality traits. The combined evidence for a strong association between menstrual syndrome and anxiety, both in the subjects and their relatives, suggests that menstrual problems may represent a manifestation of underlying anxiety disorders rather than strictly affective disorders as traditionally believed.