Affective disturbance associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder does not disrupt emotional modulation of pain and spinal nociception.

PMID 25139588


In healthy individuals, emotions modulate pain and spinal nociception according to a valence linear trend (ie, pain/nociception is highest during negative emotions and lowest during positive emotions). However, emerging evidence suggests that emotional modulation of pain (but not spinal nociception) is disrupted in fibromyalgia and disorders associated with chronic pain risk (eg, major depression, insomnia). The present study attempted to extend this work and to examine whether women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a cyclical syndrome associated with debilitating affective symptoms during the late-luteal (premenstrual) phase of the menstrual cycle, is also associated with disrupted emotional modulation of pain. To do so, an affective picture-viewing procedure was used to study emotional modulation of pain and spinal nociception in 14 women with PMDD and 14 control women during mid-follicular, ovulatory, and late-luteal phases of the menstrual cycle (verified by salivary hormone levels and luteinizing hormone tests). At each phase, mutilation, neutral, and erotic pictures were presented to manipulate emotion. During picture viewing, suprathreshold electrocutaneous stimuli were presented to evoke pain and the nociceptive flexion reflex (NFR; a physiological measure of spinal nociception). Statistically powerful linear mixed model analyses confirmed that pictures evoked the intended emotional states in both groups across all menstrual phases. Furthermore, emotion modulated pain and NFR according to a valence linear trend in both groups and across all menstrual phases. Thus, PMDD-related affective disturbance is not associated with a failure to emotionally modulate pain, suggesting that PMDD does not share this pain phenotype with major depression, insomnia, and fibromyalgia.