Constipation is a significant manifestation of a number of psychological disorders. Published papers recommend using self-assessment questionnaires for discriminating psychological from non-psychological constipated patients before operating on them but reports from major surveys revealed that general practitioners failed to diagnose 70% of depressed patients using self-assessment questionnaires.
Lower circulating concentrations of progesterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, cortisol, testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrostenedione sulfate (DHEAS) during the follicular phase in constipated young women compared with respective controls were found during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycles. During the luteal phase of the cycle, reductions were identified in estriol, cortisol and testosterone in the constipated group.
Likewise, circulating concentrations of DHEAS were found to be lower in depressed patients than comparable healthy controls. DHEAS/cortisol ratios in morning serum and salivary samples were lower than those retrieved during other times of the day in depressed patients. The idea of recognizing major depression in constipated patients by measuring DHEAS/cortisol ratios in saliva and serum may be plausible but this possibility needs to be confirmed in well-designed studies.