Increased Cortisol Levels in Depression: A Comparative Study Evaluating the Correlation of Hypercortisolemia with Prosocial Coping Mechanisms

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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this paper was to evaluate if depressed patients have an increased level of morning serum cortisol compared to healthy persons and to assess the relation between high levels of cortisol and prosocial coping mechanisms, in the context of Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. Methods: Morning serum cortisol level was measured in 15 depressed patients hospitalized in First Clinic of Psychiatry Tirgu Mures and in 15 healthy controls. We have analyzed 3 behavioral coping strategies with The Strategic Approach of Coping Scale (SACS): social joining (SJ), seeking social support (SSS) and cautious action (CA). Results: 30 participants were included, the mean value of the cortisol for females was Mcort_female= 16.38 μg/dl and for males Mcort_male= 16.31 μg/dl. Independent sample t test showed that the cortisol level in depressed group was higher than the cortisol level in the control group: t = 2.394, p < 0.05 (0.024). In the MDD group the Spearman correlation between the level of serum cortisol and prosocial coping strategies was: rcortisol-SJ= -0.519; rcortisol-SSS= -0.107; rcortisol-CA= -0.382. Conclusions: Although the studied sample patient was small, we can conclude that the patients with Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder have an increased level of morning serum cortisol compared to healthy persons. In these patients there is an inverse correlation between the increased levels of morning cortisol and the frequency of use of the effective prosocial coping strategies, particularly the social joining type.

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Acta Medica Marisiensis

The Journal of The University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Targu-Mures

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