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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfated ester (DHEA-S) are important pre-hormones that also have direct neurohormonal effects on the central nervous system. Over the last twenty years, data have revealed that serum DHEA peaks in a person’s mid-20s and steadily declines throughout their lifetime. In addition, women tend to have lower values than men. This is of note because lower serum values tend to be correlated with increased risk of depression, worse depressive symptoms, and increased risk of relapse into depression. A review of literature concerning DHEA’s age related values, its association with depression, and its use in the treatment of depression was performed. It was found that supplementation with DHEA appears to alleviate the symptoms of depression even though a dose-response relationship nor a clear mechanism have been established. For providers who choose to use DHEA to alleviate the symptoms of depression, they should consider that even the best studies concerning its effectiveness are underpowered, it lacks FDA approval, and, if given as a supplement, may lack any active ingredient. Despite those warnings, the AAPA, CANMAT, and Dynamed all agree that evidence exists as to its efficacy.
Physician Assistant Studies
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Mental Disorders
Tipton, Bryan, "The Use of DHEA in the Treatment of Depression" (2019). Physician Assistant Scholarly Project Posters. 158.