Serum androgens and psychopathology in hirsute women

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1993 Dec;14(4):269-82. doi: 10.3109/01674829309084450.


Twenty consecutive women referred for evaluation and treatment of idiopathic hirsutism were evaluated with regard to levels of serum androgens, degree of hirsutism, nature and prevalence of psychological symptoms, and mood and affects. Androgens measured were total testosterone, free testosterone, biologically active testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and androstenedione. Psychological symptoms were quantified via the Derogatis Symptom Inventory, and mood and affects were measured by the Affects Balance Scale. Results revealed very significant correlations between unbound fractions of testosterone (i.e. free and biologically active testosterone) and both symptom and mood measures of depression (r = 0.60; p < 0.01). Significant inverse correlations were also observed between unbound fractions of testosterone and positive affects measures (e.g. 'contentment' r = -0.51; p < 0.05). Correlations between total testosterone and psychological variables were non-significant in all instances. Measures of degree of hirsutism correlated approximately zero (o) with psychological symptom and mood measures in this sample. When psychiatric 'caseness' criteria were applied to the cohort, seven of the 20 women (35%) were found to be positive. Results are interpreted to suggest that depression among hirsute women appears more likely to have its basis in a deranged neuroendocrine mechanism than in psychosocial causes.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / blood
  • Acne Vulgaris / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androgens / blood*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Hirsutism / blood
  • Hirsutism / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Androgens
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate