Menstrual Cycle Linked To Increased Suicide Risk In Women With Mental Health Issues

In Education

A groundbreaking study has uncovered a strong link between the menstrual cycle and heightened suicidal thoughts and planning in women with mental health histories. This research is the first to examine the fluctuations of suicidal thoughts throughout the menstrual cycle.

Suicide risk high during perimenstrual period

According to a study by the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), the menstrual cycle can significantly impact individuals with suicidal thoughts. The study suggests that the menstrual cycle is one of the few predictable recurring risk factors that can help clinicians identify when a suicide attempt might occur. This finding is crucial for clinicians who often lack information about when they need to be most concerned about their patients’ safety.

Researchers monitored 119 participants through a menstrual cycle, using daily surveys to assess suicidal thoughts and mental health symptoms. This method provided a detailed analysis of cycle-related changes, contrasting with previous studies that only determined menstrual status post-suicide attempt at a single time point.

The study reaffirms previous research indicating a rise in suicide attempts during the perimenstrual phase, coinciding with menstruation onset. Suicidal ideation intensifies, and planning becomes more probable during this period. Additionally, researchers identify individual variations in the impact of the menstrual cycle on symptoms and suicidality.

No reliable way to determine suicide risk between individuals

Jordan Barone, an MD/PhD student at UIC, said that there is lack of accurate predictors for suicide attempts in different individuals. Barone highlights the lack of a reliable way to determine why or when Person A or Person B is likely to attempt suicide. However not everyone is affected by hormonal cycles in the same manner, and the inclusion of individual differences in prediction models has proven to be valuable.

Study participants experienced increased psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety during premenstrual and early menstrual phases. Emotional changes and certain symptoms linked to suicidal thoughts varied among individuals. 

Senior author Tory Eisenlohr-Moul noted the diversity in emotional symptoms’ correlation with suicidality, emphasizing that the impact on creating suicidality differs for each person, even if they experience irritability, mood swings, or anxiety during their menstrual cycle.

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