Effects of electroconvulsive therapy on the CRH-ACTH-cortisol system in melancholic depression: Preliminary findings

M. A. Kling, T. D. Geracioti, Julio Licinio, D. Michelson, E. H. Oldfield, P. W. Gold

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56 Citations (Scopus)


Hypercortisolism is one of the most consistent biological abnormalities seen in patients with major depression, particularly the melancholic subtype. We present preliminary data regarding the effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) on urinary-free cortisol (UFC) excretion and on the secretion of its principal regulatory hormone, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with major depression. Our preliminary results indicate that, while acute elevations in UFC may occur with the initiation of ECT or other antidepressant treatments, successful treatment with ECT is associated with a reduction in both UFC excretion and the diurnal pattern of CSF immunoreactive CRH levels. These findings are compatible with data in experimental animals that show reductions in hypothalamic CRH expression and pituitary-adrenal function with long-term antidepressant treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-494
Number of pages6
JournalPsychopharmacology Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1994


  • cerebrospinal fluid
  • corticotropin-releasing hormone
  • cortisol
  • electroconvulsive therapy
  • melancholia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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