OVER the past two decades, since Selye1 introduced the concept of the "general adaptation syndrome," an impressive body of psychoendocrine studies has described increased 17-hydroxycorticosteroid (17-OHCS) excretion and elevated plasma 17-OHCS levels in association with psychological responses to both naturally occurring and experimentally contrived stress situations. Relatively greater and more sustained increases in indices of pituitary adrenal function have been well documented in some severely depressed patients.
The potential now exists to pursue a new level of investigation of the role of pituitary adrenal function in depression, and perhaps in a broader sense, in human behavior. This paper reviews current data relating depression and pituitary adrenal function and proposes an outline for future research in this field. A consideration of the relationship of steroid metabolism to depression suggests three overall questions. (1) Is there evidence that a consistent significant alteration
Fawcett JA, Bunney WE. Pituitary Adrenal Function and DepressionAn Outline for Research. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(5):517-535. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730230001001