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Psychiatry Res. 2003 Oct 15;120(3):257-64.

Influence of mirtazapine on urinary free cortisol excretion in depressed patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Munich, Nüssbaumstr. 7, Munich 80336, Germany.


Mirtazapine has been shown to acutely inhibit cortisol secretion in healthy subjects. In the present study, the impact of mirtazapine treatment on urinary free cortisol (UFC) excretion was investigated in depression. Twenty patients (six men, 14 women) suffering from major depression according to DSM-IV criteria were treated with mirtazapine for 3 weeks. The patients received 15 mg mirtazapine on day 0; 30 mg mirtazapine on day 1; and 45 mg mirtazapine per day from day 2 to the end of the study (day 21). UFC excretion was measured before treatment (day 1), at the beginning (day 0), after 1 week (day 7) and after 3 weeks (day 21) of treatment with mirtazapine. Urine samples were collected from 08:00 to 08:00 h the following day. On the days of urine sampling, the severity of depressive symptoms was assessed using the 21-item version of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (21-HAMD). There was a significant reduction of UFC excretion during 3-week mirtazapine therapy, which was already obvious after the first day of treatment (day 0). However, there were no significant across-subjects correlations between UFC reduction and decrease in 21-HAMD sum scores. Apparently, the mirtazapine-induced rapid reduction of cortisol secretion in depressed patients is not necessarily correlated with a favorable therapeutic response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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