Research Article| Volume 32, ISSUE 9, P812-816, November 01, 1992

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and suicidal behavior in depression

  • Alec Roy
    Address reprint requests to Alec Roy, M.B., 140 Dwight Place, Englewood, NJ. 07631 USA.
    From Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, NY 11004 USA.
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Thanks to Philip Gold, M.D. for the assay of CSF CRH, to Simcha Pollack, Ph.D. for statistical help, and to an anonymous reviewer for suggesting examining serious suicide attempts.
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      Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function was examined in relation to suicidal behavior in depression. There were no significant differences between depressed patients who had or had not attempted suicide for either cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin-releasing hormone, plasma cortisol levels predexamethasone or postdexamethasone, or for urinary-free cortisol outputs. However, depressed patients who had made a violent suicide attempt had significantly higher 4 pm and maximum postdexamethasone plasma cortisol levels, and significantly more of them were cortisol nonsuppressors than patients who had made nonviolent suicide attempts. A 5-year follow-up was carried out. There were no significant differences on indices of HPA function between depressed patients who did or did not reattempt suicide during the follow-up or who had never attempted suicide. These results suggest the possibility that dysregulation of the HPA axis may be a determinant of violent suicidal behavior in depression.
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