PMID: 12587196Feb 18, 2003

Stress hormone-related psychopathology: pathophysiological and treatment implications

The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry : the Official Journal of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry
Owen M WolkowitzVictor I Reus


Stress is commonly associated with a variety of psychiatric conditions, including major depression, and with chronic medical conditions, including diabetes and insulin resistance. Whether stress causes these conditions is uncertain, but plausible mechanisms exist by which such effects might occur. To the extent stress-induced hormonal alterations (e.g., chronically elevated cortisol levels and lowered dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA] levels) contribute to psychiatric and medical disease states, manipulations that normalize these hormonal aberrations should prove therapeutic. In this review, we discuss mechanisms by which hormonal imbalance (discussed in the frameworks of "allostatic load" and "anabolic balance") might contribute to illness. We then review certain clinical manifestations of such hormonal imbalances and discuss pharmacological and behavioural treatment strategies aimed at normalizing hormonal output and lessening psychiatric and physical pathology.


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