A high proportion of patients with depression develop glucose intolerance accompanied by hyperinsulinemia, suggestive of reduced insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance). The aim of this study was to evaluate insulin sensitivity in patients with depression and its changes during the clinical course of depression. Twenty nondiabetic patients with depression (13 males and 7 females aged 44+/-14 years; body mass index [BMI] 23.2+/-2.8 kg/m2) were prospectively studied by the frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIGT) and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) before and after treatment of depression, and an age-, sex-, and BMI-matched control group (n = 13) was examined once by the FSIGT. Metabolic indices measuring glucose effectiveness at basal insulin (SG) and insulin sensitivity (SI) were derived from minimal model analysis. Each patient was treated by cyclic antidepressants with an 1,800 to 2,200 kcal/d food intake and underwent no exercise therapy. SI was significantly lower in patients before treatment versus control subjects (6.0+/-2.5 v 13.8+/-8.6 x 10(-5) min(-1) x mol(-1) x L, P < .01). After treatment of depression, a significant increase in SI (10.7+/-7.5 x 10(-5) min(-1) x mol(-1) x 1, P <t.01) was observed without changes in the BMI, fasting blood glucose, and SG. This was associated with a decrease in the insulin response during the OGTT and FSIGT. We conclude that patients with depression have impaired insulin sensitivity and resultant hyperinsulinemia and that these abnormalities can be resolved after recovery from depression.