Increased sensitivity to light-induced melatonin suppression characterizes some, but not all, patients with bipolar illness or seasonal affective disorder.
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that patients with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), categorized as a depressive disorder in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), have altered sensitivity to 200 lux light during mid-follicular (MF) and late-luteal (LL) menstrual cycle phases compared with normal control (NC) women.
As an extension of a pilot study in which the authors administered 500 lux to 8 PMDD and 5 NC subjects, in the present study the authors administered 200 lux to 10 PMDD and 13 NC subjects during MF and LL menstrual cycle phases. Subjects were admitted to the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) in dim light (<50 lux) to dark (during sleep) conditions at 16:00 h where nurses inserted an intravenous catheter at 17:00 h and collected plasma samples for melatonin at 30-min intervals from 18:00 to 10:00 h, including between 00:00 and 01:00 h for baseline values, between 01:30 and 03:00 h during the 200 lux light exposure administered from 01:00 to 03:00 h, and at 03:30 and 04:00 h after the light exposure.
Median % melatonin suppression was significantly greater in PMDD (30.8%) versus NC (-0.2%) women (p = .040), and was significantly greater in PMDD in the MidFollicle (30.8%) than in the Late Luteal(-0.15%) phase (p = .047). Additionally, in the LL (but not the MF) phase, % suppression after 200 lux light was significantly positively correlated with serum estradiol level (p = .007) in PMDD patients, but not in NC subjects (p > .05).