European journal of endocrinology

Psychological morbidity and impaired quality of life in patients with stable treatment for primary adrenal insufficiency: cross-sectional study and review of the literature.

PMID 24801589


A high prevalence of psychological morbidity and maladaptive personality as well as impaired quality of life (QoL) is observed in patients with and without hydrocortisone dependency following (cured) Cushing's syndrome. However, it is currently unclear whether a similar pattern is present in patients with chronic glucocorticoid replacement for primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI). To evaluate psychological functioning, personality traits, and QoL in patients with PAI. A cross-sectional study including 54 patients with stable treatment for PAI and 54 healthy matched controls. Both patients and controls completed questionnaires on psychological functioning (Apathy Scale, Irritability Scale, Mood and Anxiety Symptoms Questionnaire short form, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), personality traits (Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology short form), and QoL (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory, Short Form 36, EuroQoL-5D, Nottingham Health Profile, and Physical Symptom Checklist). Patients with PAI suffered from more psychological morbidity (i.e. irritability and somatic arousal) and QoL impairments compared with controls (all P<0.01). There were no differences regarding maladaptive personality traits between patients and controls. However, there was a strong and consistent positive association between the daily hydrocortisone dose and prevalence of maladaptive personality traits (i.e. identity problems, cognitive distortion, compulsivity, restricted expression, callousness, oppositionality, rejection, conduct problems, social avoidance, narcissism, and insecure attachment, all P<0.05). There was also a strong relation between the mean daily hydrocortisone dose and both psychological morbidity (i.e. depression, P<0.05) and QoL impairments (i.e. general health perception, several measures of physical functioning, and vitality, all P<0.05). Patients on stable glucocorticoid replacement therapy for PAI report psychological morbidity and impaired QoL. Psychological morbidity, impaired QoL, and maladaptive personality traits were all associated with higher dosages of hydrocortisone.