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July 1980

Dextroamphetamine and Cortisol in DepressionMorning Plasma Cortisol Levels Suppressed

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(7):755-757. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780200033003

• Dextroamphetamine sulfate administered intravenously in the morning to 11 unmedicated depressed patients suppressed previously elevated plasma cortisol levels to normal in 90 minutes, a fall of 33% from baseline. Ten other depressed patients, without amphetamine, maintained high cortisol levels during the same time period. In each of five normal young men, amphetamine identically administered stimulated a rise in cortisol between 15 and 30 minutes after infusion, an acute response absent in ten of the 11 depressed patients; by 90 minutes after amphetamine administration, plasma cortisol had fallen to normal and identical levels in both groups. Since noradrenalin normally inhibits hypothalamic corticotropin releasing factor (and adrenocorticotropic hormone) secretion, a noradrenergic deficit may account for cortisol hypersecretion in depression; amphetamine may transiently "correct" this deficit in depressed patients, thereby reducing their cortisol secretion.