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Not fade away: the HPA axis and depression

  • P. J. Cowen (a1)

Abstract

Salivary cortisol sampling has confirmed the presence of increased cortisol secretion in depression and has also revealed that some aspects of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis disturbance have trait-like characteristics that may predict the risk of future illness. Persistent hypersecretion of cortisol in individuals vulnerable to depression also has implications for the medical co-morbidities associated with mood disorder. Pharmacological treatments targeted at the HPA axis represent a novel approach to the management of depression and its complications; however, a better understanding of the molecular basis of HPA axis dysfunction in depressed patients will be needed before this promise can be fulfilled.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Professor P. J. Cowen, Neurosciences Building, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. (Email: phil.cowen@psych.ox.ac.uk)

References

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