Cognitive and serotonergic vulnerability to depression: convergent findings

J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Feb;116(1):86-94. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.116.1.86.


Cognitive reactivity (CR) is a psychological vulnerability marker of depression, whereas response to acute tryptophan depletion (ATD; a serotonergic challenge procedure) is a biological vulnerability marker. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between these markers. Thirty-nine remitted depressed patients participated in 2 ATD sessions in a double-blind crossover design. CR, assessed prior to the ATD sessions, predicted depressive response to high-dose ATD. CR also diminished the effects of 2 known predictors of ATD response: gender and residual symptoms. Neuroticism and behavioral inhibition were unrelated to ATD response. CR is associated with an increased sensitivity to reductions of serotonin concentrations. These findings present a small step toward unifying cognitive and neurobiological theories of depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Depression* / metabolism
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Tryptophan / deficiency


  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan