Mirtazapine Acutely Inhibits Salivary Cortisol Concentrations in Depressed Patients
Mirtazapine has been shown to acutely inhibit cortisol secretion in healthy subjects. In the current study, the impact of mirtazapine treatment on salivary cortisol secretion was investigated in 12 patients with major depression (DSM-IV criteria). Patients were treated with mirtazapine for 3 weeks, receiving 15 mg of mirtazapine on day 0, 30 mg on day 1, and 45 mg per day from day 2 to the end of the study (day 21). Response to mirtazapine treatment was defined by a reduction of at least 50% in the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression after 3 weeks of therapy. Salivary cortisol concentrations were measured before treatment (day -1), at the beginning of treatment (day 0), after 1 week (day 7), and after 3 weeks (day 21) of treatment with mirtazapine. Saliva samples were collected hourly from 8 am to 8 pm. A significant reduction in cortisol concentrations was already noted after 1 day of mirtazapine treatment which was comparable in responders and in nonresponders. Mirtazapine therefore appears to be an effective in decreasing hypercortisolism in depression. However, the importance of the acute inhibitory effects of mirtazapine on cortisol secretion for its antidepressant efficacy has to be further clarified.