June 1964

Cortisol Secretion Rate in Depressive Illness

Author Affiliations

From the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital, London, SE5.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;10(6):572-575. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720240026004

Introduction  In a previous study1 elevated plasma cortisol levels were found in patients suffering from depressive illness, a finding which confirmed the original observations of Board et al.2,3 In a group of 18 cases, in which plasma cortisol was measured at weekly intervals, there was a positive correlation between the height of the plasma level and the severity of the depression. It was concluded that increased adrenocortical activity, already well-known as a feature of anxiety,4 was also a feature of depression. Since this conclusion was based on a study of only one index of adrenocortical function, further evidence was sought by measuring the secretion rate of cortisol in a second group of depressed patients.

Case Material and Methods  The investigation was conducted on 15 patients admitted to the metabolic unit of the Maudsley Hospital with a diagnosis of depression. There were five

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