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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive therapy (CT) as a psychological treatment for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), by comparison with a waitlist control group. Women meeting selection criteria for PMS were randomly allocated to one of two treatment groups: (i) an immediate treatment group, who received 12 weekly sessions of individual CT; or (ii) a waiting list group who recorded symptoms of PMS for a length of time equivalent to the duration of an individual treatment in the immediate treatment group. General practitioners and gynecologists referred women who were complaining of distressing and disabling emotional and physical symptoms in the second half of the menstrual cycle, as verified by 2 months of prospective diary recording. Assessments of the women's psychological and social functioning were made on entry to the study, 2 months later, and at the end of the treatment period. This design allows evaluation of the efficacy of CT relative to any spontaneous remission that may have occurred as a consequence of the passage of time, the keeping of menstrual diaries, interview, and self-rated assessments. Results indicated that CT was significantly more effective than assignment to the waitlist group. Diary measures and self-report questionnaires indicated an almost complete remission of psychological and somatic symptoms and of impairment of functioning. It is concluded that CT for PMS is associated with substantial improvements that cannot be attributed to the passage of time or the completion of the diary and other assessments.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Psychosomatic Research

Publication Date





307 - 318