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Am J Psychiatry. 1990 Oct;147(10):1297-303.

Cognitive effects of corticosteroids.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco.


In three independent studies with different designs and groups of subjects, the authors found that 1) depressed patients who did not suppress cortisol when given dexamethasone (compared to suppressors and normal control subjects), 2) healthy volunteers given a single 1-mg dose of dexamethasone (compared to those given placebo), and 3) healthy volunteers given 80 mg/day of prednisone for 5 days (compared to those given placebo) all made significantly more errors of commission in verbal memory tasks, with no significant change in their rates of errors of omission. These findings raise the possibility of specific corticosteroid-related cognitive impairments.

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