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July 1972

Psychopathology in Cushing's Syndrome

Arch Intern Med. 1972;130(1):114-117. doi:10.1001/archinte.1972.03650010100019

Literature on the psychopathology of Cushing's syndrome stresses affective disorders and relatively neglects dementia. This communication reports seven patients with elevated nondexamethasone suppressible levels of 17-hydroxycorticosteroids (17-OHCS). A wide range of reaction from very slight irritability to florid depressions and delusional and confused states was observed. In two of the disturbed patients, past conditions other than Cushing's syndrome had precipitated florid psychological pictures similar to those seen when Cushing's syndrome presented. Furthermore, other stresses concomitant with elevated steroid levels rapidly precipitated behavioral crises in patients with preexisting Cushing's syndrome. It is concluded that elevated steroid levels themselves constitute an agent which nonspecifically elicits the latent psychopathological tendencies found premorbidly in disturbed patients.