Cortisol Levels Increased in Youth at Risk for Psychosis

Kermit Cole
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Researchers from Columbia University and the Institute of Neurosciences in Barcelona assessed cortisol levels in 33 patients at clinical high risk of psychosis. Cortisol level was associated with stress sensitivity, and no other symptom, and was significantly higher in patients who were medication-free compared to controls and to patients taking medications. The authors conclude “that excess activation of the HPA axis and/or neuroendocrine abnormalities characterize the psychosis risk state for at least a subset of patients. Our findings further suggest that psychotropic medications may have a normalizing effect on HPA-axis dysfunction…”

Abstract → 
Sugranyes, G., Thompson, J., Corcoran, C.; HPA-axis Function, Symptoms, and Medication Exposure in Youths at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis. Journal of Psychiatric Research, online August 11, 2012

Related item:
Cortisol levels increased in youth at high risk for psychosis

 

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

8 COMMENTS

  1. The conclusions of this study are probably not valid. Questions:

    – How did they identify subjects at clinical high risk for psychosis? A proposed diagnosis of pre-psychosis was dropped from the DSM-5 amid great uproar about excessive false positives; Patrick McGorry, one of the major proponents of the concept, disavowed it http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/aboutturn-on-treatment-of-the-young-20120219-1th8a.html

    Therefore, selection of the subject population representing clinical high risk of psychosis is questionable.

    – From the abstract: “Basal salivary cortisol secretion was assessed in 33 patients at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis (21 medication-free and 12 taking a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and/or atypical antipsychotic), and 13 healthy controls. Among the CHR patients, we also examined associations of basal salivary cortisol with symptoms (positive, negative, mood, stress sensitivity) and clinical outcome.”

    This is a lousy way to test for cortisol levels, which change throughout the day.

    – 12 out of 33 subjects were taking psychiatric medications, which can affect cortisol levels.

  2. In other news all stressed out humans have elevated cortisol (known as the stress hormone), and stressed out humans who turn to heroin, alcohol, orgasms, win the lottery, OR turn to psychiatry’s major tranquilizer drugs, can artificially make themselves a little less stressed out.

    Oh and researchers have concluded their findings further suggest that winning at the race track may have a normalizing effect on HPA-axis dysfunction found in gamblers who have recently suffered a losing streak.

  3. ‘The authors conclude “that excess activation of the HPA axis and/or neuroendocrine abnormalities characterize the psychosis risk state for at least a subset of patients. Our findings further suggest that psychotropic medications may have a normalizing effect on HPA-axis dysfunction…’

    This is like finding unhappy people cry more, produce more tears, and attributing this to ‘tear duct dysfunction’. Another body blaming, biological determinist piece of research by people so convinced that distressing thoughts need to be blamed on dysfunctional bodily systems, they are willing to sell a doomsday song to these young people in the study. Pure evil.

    I’m glad I’m not one of those young people labeled ‘at risk’ by these quacks. Boy. They’ll be lucky if they get to adulthood alive with that much psychiatric meddling and scrutiny on them.

  4. “Cortisol level was associated with stress sensitivity… ”

    Since the planet, galaxy and possibly even the Universe itself are “going nuts”, I diagnose both the Sun AND Earth as having severe Bi-Polar disorder and probably some schizophrenia and psychosis. Oh, and abundant cortisol levels – for sure. I half-joke.

    http://youtu.be/JfJlYmBOV3M
    3MIN News August 17, 2012

    The environment *does* matter, in every aspect of our being. The economists talk about economic collapse and the earth scientists talk about atmospheric collapse.

    And when I was homeless in 2008, I knew that my insides were going to collapse – which they did.

    Now we just need Psychiatry to collapse. 🙂