Summary: BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY (2000), 177, 499- 504
Recent life events, cortisol, dihydroepiandrosterone and the onset of major depression
in high-risk adolescents
I.M.GOODYER, J.HERBERT, A.TAMPLIN and P.M.E.ALTHAM
It is not clear whether cortisol or dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) increases the risk for major
depression in the presence of undesirable life events.
To determine whether there is a specic pattern of psychoendocrine factors that predicts the onset
of major depressive disorder.
180 adolescents (73 boys, 107 girls) at high risk for psychopathology were assessed for cortisol,
DHEA, depressive symptoms, life events and psychiatric disorder at entry and 12 months later.
Major depression was predicted for both genders by the additive eects of: higher depressive
symptoms; personal disappointments and losses only in the month before onset; one or more daily
levels of cortisol at 08.00 h or DHEA at 20.00 h greater than the 80th percentile of the daily mean.
A subgroup of adolescents may carry a physiological risk for major depression which may be either
of genetic and/or earlier psychosocial origin.