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Post-dexamethasone cortisol correlates

with severity of depression before and

during carbamazepine treatment in women but not men

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Objective: Previous studies show a state-dependent relationship between depression and post-dexamethasone suppression test (DST) cortisol level, as well as differences in DST response with age and gender.

Method: In this study, 74 research in-patients with affective disorders were given the DST on placebo and in a subgroup following treatment with carbamazepine. Depression was evaluated twice daily with the Bunney–Hamburg (BH) rating scale. Data were examined for the total subject population, by gender and by menopausal status in women.

Results: A robust positive correlation was observed between depression severity and post-DST cortisol in pre- and postmenopausal females, but not in males. This relationship persisted in women when restudied on a stable dose of carbamazepine (n=42).

Conclusion: The pathophysiological implications of this selective positive relationship between severity of depression and post-DST cortisol in women, but not men, should be explored further.
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Keywords: carbamazepine; cortisol; depression; dexamethasone; gender; menopause

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, 2: Biological Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, 3: UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, 4: North Little Rock VA Medical Center, North Little Rock, Arkansas and 5: Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

Publication date: 01 November 2001

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