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Psychotic Depression Analysis

Volume 22: debated on Friday 23 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if his Department is aware of any research being carried out in the United Kingdom into psychotic depression analysis relating the inability of the hypothalamus to suppress cortisol production; and if he will make a statement.

The Medical Research Council's brain metabolism unit is carrying out research on the action of the artificial steriod dexamethasone in suppressing cortisol production in severely depressed patients. Such patients, who have persistently high blood concentrations of cortisol, show a very rapid recovery from this suppression. The unit is investigating both the mechanism of the suppression and its use as a test to distinguish depressive illness from early dementia in the elderly.It is likely that a certain amount of research in this area is also being carried out in universities and medical schools, using funds provided through the University Grants Committee as block grants for teaching and research.