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July 1968

Differences in Sedative Susceptibility Between Types of Depression: Clinical and Neurophysiological Significance

Author Affiliations

Chapel Hill, NC
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, and the Department of Mental Health, Research Division, Raleigh, NC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;19(1):64-71. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740070066010

IN 1956 Shagass et al,1 reported that psychotic depressed patients differed significantly from neurotic depressed patients in the amount of sodium amobarbital necessary to produce a specific end point of sedation. This end point was characterized by the onset of slurred speech as well as by certain specific changes appearing in the EEG frontal fast activity. Unfortunately, although this finding was later confirmed by Boudreau2 and Nymgaard,3 other authors who tried to utilize the Shagass technique reported considerable difficulty in determining the sedation threshold point by the speech and/or the EEG criteria.4-7

The theoretical as well as the clinical importance of a difference in sedative susceptibility between types of depression motivated us to the further investigation of this problem. As objective indices of the sedation induced by the progressive intravenous administration of sodium thiopental,

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