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Progestin (Progesterone-Like Hormones) Induced Dysphoria (Depressed Mood, Irritability, Anxiety)

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: November 3, 1999
Last updated: March 3, 2008
Last verified: March 2003

Often women are prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during the perimenopause or menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy includes both estrogen and progesterone. The estrogen component of HRT helps to relieve the symptoms and has a beneficial effect on the heart and bones, but estrogen also increases the risk of uterine cancer. The progesterone component of the HRT (progestin) works to prevent the increased risk of uterine cancer.

There is evidence that some women experience unpleasant mood symptoms (such as irritability, depressed mood and anxiety) while receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) while taking the progestin / progesterone component of the HRT.

This study is designed to evaluate the ability of progestins to produce negative mood symptoms in women. Researchers intend on doing this by comparing the effects of medroxyprogesterone acetate (Provera) and a placebo inactive sugar pill. Patient's moods will be monitered based on their response to questionnaires answered in the outpatient clinic and at home.

This research will attempt to answer the following questions:

  1. Are progestins associated with changes in mood during hormone replacement therapy?
  2. If progestins are associated with mood disturbance, is it because they are blocking the beneficial effects of estrogen?

Depressive Disorder
Mood Disorder
Psychomotor Agitation

Study Type: Observational
Official Title: The Phenomenology and Biophysiology of Progestin-Induced Dysphoria

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 50
Study Start Date: March 1998
Estimated Study Completion Date: March 2003
Detailed Description:
There is evidence in the literature that some women experience dysphoric symptoms while receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and that this disturbance in mood is related to the progestin component of the HRT. The bulk of this evidence is anecdotal. While some authors have attempted to examine this putative problem in a more systematic fashion, there are no controlled studies that attempt to identify the mechanism through which the perturbation in mood occurs. Adverse effects of progestins might be mediated directly through the progesterone or androgen receptor. Alternatively, the effects of progestins might be consequent to the antiestrogen effects of progesterone. This latter possibility is in part supported by our observation in previous studies of the beneficial effects of estradiol on mood and the possible precipitation of mood disturbance following acute estrogen withdrawal. Finally, despite the popular lore that progesterone causes mood disturbances, a placebo effect cannot be ruled out, since women taking HRT know when they are receiving the progestin component of the regimen. Our research questions therefore are as follows: 1) Are progestins associated with changes in mood during HRT, and 2) If progestins are associated with mood disturbance, is it because they are blocking the beneficial effects of estrogen?

Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes


The subjects in this study will be women who meet the following criteria:

  1. history of mood and/or behavioral symptoms associated with hormone replacement therapy;
  2. age 40 to 65;
  3. in good medical health.


Any subject with significant physical, EKG, mammogram or laboratory abnormalities will not participate in this protocol. Additionally prior to participation all subjects will be examined for any contradictions to estrogen therapy (as determined by a pelvic exam and mammogram) within the past year by a gynecologist of their choice. In those patients who are unable to independently arrange this exam, we have arranged for a consultant gynecologist to be available through our collaboration with NICHD.

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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00001770

United States, Maryland
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  More Information

Publications: Identifier: NCT00001770     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 980079
Study First Received: November 3, 1999
Last Updated: March 3, 2008

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Hormone Replacement Therapy

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder
Mood Disorders
Psychomotor Agitation
Pathologic Processes
Mental Disorders
Behavioral Symptoms
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Psychomotor Disorders
Neurobehavioral Manifestations
Signs and Symptoms
Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists
Physiological Effects of Drugs processed this record on May 25, 2017