European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 379–384 | Cite as

Major depression in young girls is related to altered cortisol awakening response

  • Schmidt Ulrike
  • Laessle Reinhold
  • Hellhammer Dirk
Brief Report



There is evidence that clinical depression is associated with elevated basal cortisol levels in adult patients.


The present investigation tries to find out, whether this relationship also holds true in adolescents with major depression.


For 131 female subjects (63 MDD, 68 controls) the cortisol awakening response (CAR) was measured at 0, 30, 45, and 60 min after awakening. All subjects provided saliva cortisol.


A significantly higher CAR was found in patients. The global mean difference was due to differences 60 and 45 min after awakening.


A causal interpretation of the data is restricted, because of its cross-sectional nature. The effect size of the mean differences is rather small.


The observed HPA hyperactivity may be a cause as well as a consequence of depression in childhood.


Major depression Children Cortisol awakening response 


Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Schmidt Ulrike
    • 1
  • Laessle Reinhold
    • 1
  • Hellhammer Dirk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Physiological PsychologyUniversity of TrierTrierGermany

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