Research article Topical Sections

Stress and serum cortisol levels in major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study

  • Received: 29 August 2020 Accepted: 10 November 2020 Published: 13 November 2020
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the disorders that most causes disability and affects about 265 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Chronic stress is one of the most prevalent factors that trigger MDD. Among the most relevant biological mechanisms that mediate stress and MDD are changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. Hypercortisolism is one of the relevant mechanisms involved in response to stress and is present in many people with MDD and in animals subjected to stress in the laboratory. This study aimed to investigate the levels of stress and cortisol in individuals diagnosed with MDD from the Basic Health Unit (BHU) in a small city in the western region of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Depression scores were assessed using Beck's inventory. For the investigation of stress, an adaptation with twenty-four questions of the Checklist-90-R manual was performed. The analysis of the cortisol levels in the individuals' serum was by the chemiluminescence method. Depression and stress scores were significantly higher in individuals with MDD than in control subjects (p < 0.001). Cortisol levels were also significantly higher in individuals with MDD (p < 0.05). Besides, depression scores were positively correlated with stress scores in individuals with MDD (Pearson's “r” = 0.70). Conclusion: Individuals with MDD had higher stress levels and cortisol than control subjects. The positive correlation between the levels of stress and depression in MDD individuals suggests that these conditions are related to a dysregulation of the HPA axis function.

    Citation: Amanda G Bertollo, Roberta E Grolli, Marcos E Plissari, Vanessa A Gasparin, João Quevedo, Gislaine Z Réus, Margarete D Bagatini, Zuleide M Ignácio. Stress and serum cortisol levels in major depressive disorder: a cross-sectional study[J]. AIMS Neuroscience, 2020, 7(4): 459-469. doi: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2020028

    Related Papers:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the disorders that most causes disability and affects about 265 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Chronic stress is one of the most prevalent factors that trigger MDD. Among the most relevant biological mechanisms that mediate stress and MDD are changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. Hypercortisolism is one of the relevant mechanisms involved in response to stress and is present in many people with MDD and in animals subjected to stress in the laboratory. This study aimed to investigate the levels of stress and cortisol in individuals diagnosed with MDD from the Basic Health Unit (BHU) in a small city in the western region of Santa Catarina, Brazil. Depression scores were assessed using Beck's inventory. For the investigation of stress, an adaptation with twenty-four questions of the Checklist-90-R manual was performed. The analysis of the cortisol levels in the individuals' serum was by the chemiluminescence method. Depression and stress scores were significantly higher in individuals with MDD than in control subjects (p < 0.001). Cortisol levels were also significantly higher in individuals with MDD (p < 0.05). Besides, depression scores were positively correlated with stress scores in individuals with MDD (Pearson's “r” = 0.70). Conclusion: Individuals with MDD had higher stress levels and cortisol than control subjects. The positive correlation between the levels of stress and depression in MDD individuals suggests that these conditions are related to a dysregulation of the HPA axis function.


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    Abbreviation BHU: Basic health unit; HPA: Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis; MDD: Major depressive disorder; WHO: World Health Organization;
    Acknowledgment



    The Translational Psychiatry Program (USA) is funded by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, McGovern Medical School, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). Laboratory of Translational Psychiatry (Brazil) is one of the members of the Center of Excellence in Applied Neurosciences of Santa Catarina (NENASC). Its research is supported by grants from CNPq (JQ, GZR, ZMI, and MDB), FAPESC (JQ, GZR, ZMI, and MDB), Instituto Cérebro e Mente (JQ and GZR), UFFS (MDB and ZMI), and UNESC (JQ and GZR). JQ is a 1A CNPq Research Fellow. ZR assisted in writing and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

    Author contributions



    VAG and ZMI applied the questionnaires; MGB made the blood collections. AGB, MEP and MGB prepared the samples and tabulated the data. GZR did the statistical analysis. ZMI and AGB wrote the manuscript. JQ and G.

    Conflict of interest



    The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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