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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2001 Nov;104(5):397-401.

Post-dexamethasone cortisol correlates with severity of depression before and during carbamazepine treatment in women but not men.

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  • 1Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.



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.


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.


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).


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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