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November 1967

Corticosteroids in Depressive Illness: I. A Reevaluation of Control Issues and the Literature

Author Affiliations

New York
From the psychoendocrine Research Laboratory and the Center for Clinical and Metabolic Studies of Affective Disorders, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston. Dr. Sachar is now at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, Bronx, NY, and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(5):544-553. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730290032005

THIS IS the first of two papers focusing on the question, is adrenal cortical function characteristically affected by depressive illness? The present paper will reevaluate the literature on this point in the light of some important control issues. A subsequent paper will report on the results of a longitudinal psychoendocrine study of 20 patients suffering clinical depressions.

The problem of adrenal cortical responses in depressive illness has emerged over the past decade as a much more complicated question than it originally seemed. Numerous psychoendocrine studies in the 1950's had demonstrated in both animals and humans that states of emotional stress and arousal were associated with elevations of corticosteroids in blood and urine.1-3 It seemed only reasonable to expect, then, that depressive illness would also be associated with an adrenal cortical stress response, since clinical depression certainly appeared to be a psychiatric condition associated with