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Psychiatry Res. 2003 Nov 1;121(1):93-7.

Basal norepinephrine in depersonalization disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.


In contrast to the noradrenergic dysregulation described in PTSD, little is known regarding noradrenergic function in dissociative disorders. The purpose of this preliminary study was to investigate basal norepinephrine in depersonalization disorder (DPD). Nine subjects with DSM-IV DPD, without lifetime PTSD, were compared to nine healthy comparison (HC) subjects. Norepinephrine was measured via 24-h urine collection and three serial plasma determinations. Groups did not differ significantly in plasma norepinephrine levels. Compared to the HC group, the DPD group demonstrated significantly higher urinary norepinephrine, only prior to covarying for anxiety. The DPD group also demonstrated a highly significant inverse correlation between urinary norepinephrine and depersonalization severity (r=-0.88). Norepinephrine and cortisol levels (reported in a prior study) were not intercorrelated. We concluded that although dissociation accompanied by anxiety was associated with heightened noradrenergic tone, there was a marked basal norepinephrine decline with increasing severity of dissociation. The findings are in concordance with the few reports on autonomic blunting in dissociation and merit further investigation.

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