Depressed patients show a disturbed hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation, resulting in increased cortisol levels, inadequate cortisol suppression following a low dose of dexamethasone, increased concentrations of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) in the cerebrospinal fluid, and a blunted adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response following CRH administration. Treatment with antidepressants, but seemingly also cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is associated with an improvement of a disturbed HPA-axis regulation, which can be most sensitively evaluated with the combined dexamethasone (dex)/CRH test. Favorable response to antidepressant treatment can be predicted at an early stage by determining the degree of normalization of HPA-axis function under treatment in a second dex/CRH test.
We report about the predictive validity of HPA-axis normalization on the favorable response of CBT in medicated depressed patients.
Medicated depressed patients receiving CBT at the Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry in Munich are studied using the State-Trait-Angstinventar (STAI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Volitional-Components-Questionnaire (VCQ-3), Emotion-Regulation Questionnaire (EPQ) and the Self-Control and Self-Management Scale (SCMS). Neuroendocrine parameters including measures of HPA-axis regulation are measured before and after therapy via dex/CRH test.
Up to the present moment data for N=38 depressed patients have been collected (N=21 male, 25-78 years; N=17 female, 21-80 years). The mean level of depression and anxiety showed a significant decrease between pre- and post-treatment measurement. Measures of perceived self-regulation and self-estimation increased and measures of perceived self-inhibition and inhibition of will decreased.
The expected changes in depression, anxiety and self-regulation after treatment with antidepressants and CBT were observed. Endocrine data are currently under analysis.