Peripheral thyroid hormones and response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Michael Gitlin, Lori L. Altshuler, Mark A. Frye, Rita Suri, Emily L. Huynh, Lynn Fairbanks, Michael Bauer, Stanley Korenman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relation between baseline measurements of thyroid function and response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and to consider the effect of these antidepressants on thyroid hormone levels. Methods: Nineteen subjects with major depression, but without a history of thyroid treatment or lithium treatment, were treated openly with either sertraline or fluoxetine in a university-affiliated tertiary care hospital. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (Ham-D) scores were measured before and after treatment. Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scores were measured at study end. Thyroid data, consisting of values for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3, measured by radioimmunoassay [RIA]), thyroxine (T4, measured by RIA) and free T4, were collected before and after treatment. Complete thyroid data were available for 17 subjects. Data were collected during 1997-1999. Results: Baseline TSH correlated strongly with response to treatment as measured by change in Ham-D scores (r = 0.64, p = 0.003). Low TSH values correlated with greater improvement in depressive symptoms. Thyroid hormone levels decreased with treatment, but these decreases did not correlate with clinical improvement. Conclusion: Baseline thyroid function, as measured by serum TSH, may predict a patient's response to antidepressant treatment with SSRIs. Optimal thyroid function, beyond simply being within the normal laboratory values, may be necessary for an optimal response to antidepressants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-386
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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