Animal studies have suggested a relationship between corticosteroids and anxiety. Pilot investigation by a group of Italian researchers headed by Nicoletta Sonino (Univeristy of Padova) suggests that aldosterone may play an important role in fear and anxiety also in humans.

Except for 3 case reports of Conn's syndrome presenting as depression, psychosocial factors have not been explored in primary aldosteronism. The Authors investigated psychological correlates in primary aldosteronism using methods that were found to be sensitive and reliable in psychosomatic research. Ten consecutive newly diagnosed patients with primary aldosteronism were studied: 5 males/5 females; mean age (SD) 45.5 (6.6) years, age range 34-54 years; 4 with an aldosterone-producing adenoma and 6 with idiopathic aldosteronism.

The Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) for eliciting psychiatric diagnoses, and a shortened version of the structured interview for subclinical psychological syndromes, the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR), were administered. Seven patients (2 with aldosterone-producing adenoma and 5 with idiopathic hyperaldosteronism) received both DSM-IV and DCPR diagnoses, while 3 had neither. As to DSM-IV, generalized anxiety disorder was detected in 6 cases (in 1 it was associated with panic disorder and in 1 with major depression) and obsessive-compulsive disorder in 1.

The most frequent DCPR cluster was demoralization (5 cases), while persistent somatization occurred in 2 cases (associated with demoralization in 1) and irritable mood in 1. The results of this investigation published in the Sept issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics show that the occurrence of anxiety disorders in patients with primary aldosteronism was much higher than that found in the general population and in primary care. Since an association between hyperaldosteronism and anxiety has also been suggested in previous animal studies, it seems worthwhile to gain further knowledge on clinical aspects by larger population studies.


The International Federation for Psychotherapy (IFP) is an organization of national, regional, and school-oriented psychotherapy societies. Its goals are to facilitate and promote international communication among the various schools, professional groups and cultures within psychotherapy. The IFP organizes international congresses and conferences on psychotherapy. The IFP promotes the development of psychotherapy in practice, teaching and research and encourages and supports appropriate standards in the practice of psychotherapy. "Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics" is the official journal of the IFP. IFP, Culmannstrasse 8, CH-8091 Zurich.

What is Anxiety?

For more information on what anxiety is and what to do about it, please see:
What is Anxiety? What Causes Anxiety? What To Do About It.