Effect of 5-Hydroxytryptophan on Serum Cortisol Levels in Major Affective Disorders: II. Relation to Suicide, Psychosis, and Depressive Symptoms

Herbert Y. Meltzer*, Richard Perline, Betty Jo Tricou, Martin Lowy, Alan Robertson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Scopus citations


Serum cortisol levels were significantly higher after administration of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), 200 mg orally, in unmedicated patients with affective disorders than in controls. The magnitude of the serum cortisol increase correlated positively with the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia—Change (SADS-C) depression syndrome ratings and correlated negatively with psychotic symptoms in 26 patients with major depression. The serum cortisol response was greater in four depressed and three manic patients who made suicide attempts than in 33 patients who were not suicidal or only had suicidal thoughts. The cortisol response was also greater in patients with bipolar depression than in those with unipolar depression and those with a first-degree relative with an affective disorder. Absence of psychotic symptoms and commission of suicidal acts were associated with an increased cortisol response to 5-HTP in the depressed patients. The cortisol response to 5-HTP in the manic patients also tended to correlate with the SADS-C manic syndrome score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-387
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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