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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991 Feb;48(2):157-62.

Blunted growth hormone response to clonidine in patients with generalized anxiety disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Patients with panic disorder or depression have abnormal responses to the alpha 2-adrenergic receptor partial agonist clonidine. Evidence linking anxiety to noradrenergic dysfunction and the presence of anxiety symptoms in both depression and panic suggest that abnormal responses to clonidine in these disorders could be due to the anxiety symptoms. To explore a possible link between "nonspecific" anxiety symptoms and abnormal responses to clonidine, patients with DSM-III-defined generalized anxiety disorder were given intravenous infusions of clonidine hydrochloride. Responses of plasma growth hormone, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, heart rate, blood pressure, and psychological states were determined in 11 patients with generalized anxiety disorder and 14 healthy subjects. Clonidine produced significantly smaller growth hormone responses in patients than in healthy controls. The two groups did not differ in 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol, heart rate, blood pressure, or psychological responses to clonidine. These results are compared with data from similar studies on patients with panic disorder and depression. The blunting of the growth hormone response to clonidine in all three disorders could be due to the presence of generalized anxiety symptoms. Subsensitivity of postsynaptic alpha 2-adrenoreceptors may be present in all three disorders; however, there are alternative interpretations of growth hormone blunting in response to clonidine. Blunting was observed in DSM-III-defined generalized anxiety disorder, whether or not the DSM-III-R criterion of excessive worry was also present.

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