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Background: This study aimed to evaluate and compare the effects of the cyclic reproductive hormonal changes on neurocognitive functions in the female of childbearing age. In the study, Generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) patients and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) patients were compared with the healthy controls.
Methods: One of the two psychiatric samples was the group of GAD (n = 38) which had 20 and higher on Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A) score and the other was the group of PMDD (n = 48). Age matched healthy control group (n = 42) was also included into the study. Venous blood samples were taken twice for hormonal assays according to the menstrual phases. Frontal assessment battery, stroop test, and weschler verbal memory tests were also applied for the evaluation of neurocognitive changes with respect to menstrual phases.
Results: Taken together with the repeated measures and the data analysis, the GAD group had significantly worse performance regarding overall neurocognitive functions (particularly memory skills, attention and psychomotor function) in their late luteal phase compared to the PMDD group. The control group had significantly better performance than the other two groups. Additionally, cyclic hormonal change rates of the both patient groups were significantly higher throughout the menstrual cycle than the control group.
Conclusions: Previous studies indicate PMDD patients suffer from some neurocognitive impairment during late luteal phase due to the central role of female reproductive hormones. However, this study finds GAD patients had worse neurocognitive impairments than the PMDD patients. Therefore, further research should be conducted on complex information processing which involved in GAD patients.