Biological Tests in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Affective Disorders

  • Harvey A. Sternbach
  • Harry E. Gwirtsman
  • Robert H. Gerner


Psychiatry has traditionally been distanced by other branches of medicine because it lacked means whereby diagnoses and treatments could be arrived at objectively. Other specialties of medicine can turn to diagnostic aids through which differential diagnoses can be narrowed down and specific treatments instituted. Over the last 10 years psychiatry has been seeking and discovering its own diagnostic aids and classification schemes to similarly enable psychiatrists to narrow their differential diagnoses and initiate specific treatments. The affective disorders have received a large share of attention, and rightfully so, since a large segment of the population in this country will experience a major depressive episode at some time in their lives (Katz, 1980). This chapter will focus on several currently existing biological tests used to assess affective disorders and the relationships of these tests to one another and response to treatment. Our intention is to provide the reader with a brief review of each test followed by a discussion of findings from the authors’ own investigations examining the relationships of these tests and treatment response. The implications of our findings, as well as those of others, will be discussed in light of current theories of the etiology of affective disorders and mechanisms underlying response to treatment.


Dexamethasone Suppression Test Unipolar Depressive Positive Treatment Response Noradrenergic Agent Urine MHPG 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harvey A. Sternbach
    • 1
    • 2
  • Harry E. Gwirtsman
    • 3
  • Robert H. Gerner
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatric InstituteUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryBrentwood Veterans Administration HospitalLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  5. 5.Long Beach Veterans Administration HospitalLong BeachUSA

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