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Psychiatry Res. 2001 Oct 10;104(1):85-9.

Basal activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in patients with depersonalization disorder.

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School of Neurosciences Division of Psychiatry, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.


Depersonalisation disorder may occur during severe anxiety or following a traumatic event, suggesting a possible role of stress hormones. This study investigated basal activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in patients with depersonalisation disorder. Salivary cortisol levels were measured at four time points over 12 h in patients with depersonalisation disorder (N=13), major depressive disorder (MDD, N=14) and healthy controls (N=13). Beck Depression Inventory scores were significantly higher in depersonalised subjects than controls, while MDD subjects demonstrated higher scores than both groups. Basal cortisol levels of depersonalised subjects were significantly lower than those of MDD subjects but not healthy controls. These results point to reduced basal activity of the HPA axis in depersonalisation disorder. This pilot study supports the distinction between depersonalisation disorder and major depressive disorder which should be examined in a larger sample.

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