ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

Cortisol and Hippocampal Volume as Predictors of Active Suicidal Behavior in Major Depressive Disorder: Case Report
Theodor Moica 1, Iosif Gabos Grecu 1, Sorina Moica 2, Marieta Gabos Grecu 3
1First Clinic of Psychiatry, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Tîrgu Mureş, Romania
2Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Petru Maior University of Tîrgu Mureş, Romania
3First Clinic of Psychiatry, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Tîrgu Mureş, Romania
DOI : 10.5152/balkanmedj.2016.150842


Background: Suicide is frequently encountered in patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). Since only a third of treated depressed patients are able to achieve remission, in the last few years, new theories have been proposed to better understand the mechanism of this illness. Our paper analyzes the interrelation between cortisol as a marker of neuroendocrine theory as a response to stress, and hippocampal volume subfields in depression as a marker of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity theory. 

Case Report: Here we present the case of a 52-year-old male patient with known history of MDD, who died as a result of completed suicide by hanging. The patient had been recently discharged from a psychiatric clinic, after being hospitalized for a major depressive episode (MDE). The result of the autopsy, medical records, laboratory analysis and a magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the patient were analyzed. Both the right and left volumes of the hippocampus were found to be smaller when compared to normal values reported in the literature. The morning level of cortisol was higher than the normal value.

Conclusion: In a depressed patient with an acute stressful event, high levels of cortisol associated with decreased volume of the hippocampus could represent predictors for an increased risk of suicide.

Keywords : Cortisol, hippocampal volume, suicide

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