Aggression, suicidality, and serotonin

J Clin Psychiatry. 1992 Oct;53 Suppl:46-51.


Studies from several countries, representing diverse cultures, have reported an association between violent suicide attempts by patients with unipolar depression and personality disorders and low concentrations of the major serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Related investigations have documented a similar inverse correlation between impulsive, externally directed aggressive behavior and CSF 5-HIAA in a subgroup of violent offenders. In these individuals, low CSF 5-HIAA concentrations are also associated with a predisposition to mild hypoglycemia, a history of early-onset alcohol and substance abuse, a family history of type II alcoholism, and disturbances in diurnal activity rhythm. These data are discussed in the context of a proposed model for the pathophysiology of a postulated "low serotonin syndrome."

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / genetics
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Hypoglycemia / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemia / physiopathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Personality Disorders / physiopathology
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Serotonin / physiology*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Syndrome
  • Violence


  • Serotonin
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid