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Twenty inpatients suffering from major depressive illness with melancholia were administered the hostility subscale of the Kellner Symptom Questionnaire and Paykel's Clinical Interview for Depression before and after treatment with amitriptyline. A matched control group of normal subjects had the same assessments at two points in time. Hostility decreased and friendliness increased in depressives after amitriptyline; upon recovery, there were no significant differences in hostility between depressed patients and control subjects, whereas such differences were striking during the illness. Patients who had reported losses before onset of illness rated themselves as more friendly than the other depressives; their hostility did not significantly decrease with recovery. The results suggest that hostility improves with the treatment of depression; life events appear to influence the degree of hostility in depressive illness as well as the response to treatment.