December 1987

Neuroendocrine Response to 5-Hydroxytryptophan in Seasonal Affective Disorder

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Psychobiology Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1987;44(12):1086-1091. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800240062009

• A double-blind random-ordered comparison of the effects of placebo and 5-hydroxytryptophan (200 mg, orally) in ten depressed patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and ten controls disclosed slightly but significantly higher basal levels of serum prolactin and a trend toward higher basal levels of serum cortisol in the patients with SAD compared with controls. After administration of 5-HTP, the cortisol level significantly increased and the prolactin level significantly decreased in both patients and controls. No differences in the melatonin level, growth hormone level, blood pressure, or pulse rate and no side effects were noted between patients and controls in the two study conditions; the timing of basal and 5-hydroxytryptophan-stimulated hormonal secretions was similar for both groups. These results are discussed with reference to current hypotheses of the cause of SAD.