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Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Feb;162(2):380-2.

Neuroactive steroids and suicidality in posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham Veterans Affairs medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA.



Recent studies suggest that neuroactive steroids may be altered in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since high rates of suicidality accompany PTSD, the authors investigated neuroactive steroid levels and correlations to suicide attempts in veterans with this disorder.


Male veterans with PTSD enrolled in a larger study during inpatient hospitalization (N=130) were assessed for suicidal ideation or suicide attempt in the last 6 months. Serum levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, testosterone, and estradiol were determined. The authors investigated associations between neuroactive steroids and suicidality.


High rates of suicidality were observed. Close to 70% of these patients had suicidal thoughts, and 25% had attempted suicide in the last 6 months. Patients who had attempted suicide demonstrated significantly higher median DHEA levels than those who had not attempted suicide (15.6 versus 8.3 ng/ml), an association that persisted after adjustment for age.


These findings suggest that higher DHEA levels may be linked to suicidality in veterans with PTSD and may be associated with the risk of self-harm.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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