Multiplicity of depressive episodes: Phenomenological and neuroendocrine correlates

George N M Gurguis, James H. Meador-Woodruff, Roger F. Haskett, John F. Greden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Sixty-four patients with a Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) diagnosis of major depressive disorder were categorized into three groups based on their number of depressive episodes (DE): Gr 1 (1 DE), n = 16, Gr II (2-4 DE), n = 25; and Gr III (5 or more DE), n = 23. All patients were nonsuppressors after 1 mg dexamethasone suppression test (DST) prior to the start of treatment. Patients were monitored during the course of their treatment using serial Hamilton Depression scores and post-DST plasma cortisol levels. A proportionately equal number of patients in the three groups had a favorable outcome, i.e., the number of depressive episodes did not predict recovery. Despite favorable clinical outcome, patients with higher numbers of depressive episodes had significantly higher post-DST plasma cortisol levels that were above the supressive range (greater than 5 μg/dl). Patients with a higher number of depressive episodes had a significantly shorter duration of index episodes and were younger at first depressive episode than patients in the other two groups. These results, however, were confounded with polarity, with a higher number of bipolars in Gr III than in the other two groups. Results are discussed in light of phenomenological and psychoendocrine findings of earlier studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1164
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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