• anxiety severity;
  • depression severity;
  • DHEAS;
  • Hamilton depression score;
  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale

Abstract  Although numerous studies have identified a correlation between dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels and anxiety or depression, those findings remain controversial. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether a correlation exists between depression severity and anxiety severity and serum DHEAS concentrations in medication-free patients experiencing a major depressive episode. Twenty-eight medication-free major depressive outpatients (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression 17 [HAM-D 17] score ≥17) were enrolled consecutively. Plasma DHEAS levels of all subjects were measured. Blood from subjects was drawn at 0900–1100 h Depression severity was assessed with the HAM-D 17 and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) depression subscale. Anxiety was assessed using the HADS anxiety subscale. Serum concentrations of DHEAS were measured immediately following the HAM-D 17 and HADS assessments. A significant, positive correlation was identified between HADS anxiety subscale total score and morning serum DHEAS concentration (P = 0.013) after controlling for age, gender and body mass index (BMI). No statistically significant correlations were found between depression ratings and morning serum DHEAS concentrations. This preliminary study provides pilot data indicating that morning serum DHEAS concentrations were positively correlated with HADS anxiety subscale score (anxiety severity) after controlling for age, gender and BMI in medication-free outpatients experiencing a major depressive episode. It is not known if morning serum DHEAS levels would show similar or dissimilar changes in non-depressed subjects. The present result needs subsequent replication.