Plasma testosterone levels in bipolar suicide attempters
Leo Sher, M.D.
Our research work, “Testosterone levels in suicide attempters with bipolar disorder” was published 10 years ago in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research (1). We examined whether there was a relation between testosterone levels and clinical parameters in bipolar suicide attempters.
Patients with a diagnosis of a bipolar disorder (16 males and 51 females), in a depressive or mixed episode with at least one past suicide attempt were enrolled. Demographic and clinical parameters, including lifetime suicidal behavior, were assessed and recorded. Plasma testosterone was assayed using a double antibody radioimmunoassay procedure.
The number of major depressive episodes, the maximum lethality of suicide attempts, and the testosterone levels were higher in men compared to women. Current suicidal ideation scores were higher in women compared to men. Controlling for sex, we found that testosterone levels positively correlated with the number of manic episodes and the number of suicide attempts. The results of our study suggest that testosterone levels may be related to the course of bipolar disorder and suicidal behavior.
A strength of our study was that we have examined a relation between testosterone levels and clinical features in a unique patient population: suicide attempters with bipolar disorder. This was the first study of testosterone levels in this patient population.
- Sher L, Grunebaum MF, Sullivan GM, Burke AK, Cooper TB, Mann JJ, Oquendo MA. Testosterone levels in suicide attempters with bipolar disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Oct;46(10):1267-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.06.016. Epub 2012 Jul 31.