Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
treatment of depression

by
Wolkowitz OM; Reus VI; Roberts E; Manfredi F;
Chan T; Raum WJ; Ormiston S; Johnson R;
Canick J; Brizendine L; Weingartner H
Department of Psychiatry,
University of California,
San Francisco, School of Medicine 94143-0984, USA
Biol Psychiatry, 1997 Feb, 41:3, 311-8


ABSTRACT

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate, DHEA-S, are plentiful adrenal steroid hormones that decrease with aging and may have significant neuropsychiatric effects. In this study, six middle-aged and elderly patients with major depression and low basal plasma DHEA f1p4or DHEA-S levels were openly administered DHEA (30-90 mg/d x 4 weeks) in doses sufficient to achieve circulating plasma levels observed in younger healthy individuals. Depression ratings, as well as aspects of memory performance significantly improved. One treatment-resistant patient received extended treatment with DHEA for 6 months: her depression ratings improved 48-72% and her semantic memory performance improved 63%. These measures returned to baseline after treatment ended. In both studies, improvements in depression ratings and memory performance were directly related to increases in plasma levels of DHEA and DHEA-S and to increases in their ratios with plasma cortisol levels. These preliminary data suggest DHEA may have antidepressant and promemory effects and should encourage double-blind trials in depressed patients.


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