Effect of previous trauma on acute plasma cortisol level following rape.
ABSTRACT The authors examined the relationships among history of previous assault, severity of rape, acute plasma cortisol level after rape, and development of rape-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Blood samples were drawn from 37 adult female rape victims within 51 hours after they had been raped. The subjects were assessed for history of previous assault and for the presence of PTSD 17-157 days (mean = 90 days) after the rape.
Women with a history of previous assault had a lower mean acute cortisol level after the rape but a higher probability of subsequently developing PTSD. A significant interaction between history of previous assault and the severity of the index rape was observed: only women who had never been assaulted before had higher cortisol levels following high-severity rapes (those which included injury or multiple types of penetration) than low-severity rapes.
The authors conclude that previous traumatization may attenuate the acute cortisol response to trauma.
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ABSTRACT: A core manifestation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disconnection between physiological state and psychological or behavioral processes necessary to adequately respond to environmental demands. Patients with PTSD experience abnormal oscillations in autonomic states supporting either fight and flight behaviors or withdrawal, immobilization, and dissociation without an intervening "calm" state that would provide opportunities for positive social interactions. This defensive autonomic disposition is adaptive in dangerous and life threatening situations, but in the context of every-day life may lead to significant psychosocial distress and deteriorating social relationships. The perpetuation of these maladaptive autonomic responses may contribute to the development of comorbid mental health issues such as depression, loneliness, and hostility that further modify the nature of cardiovascular behavior in the context of internal and external stressors. Over time, changes in autonomic, endocrine, and immune function contribute to deteriorating health, which is potently expressed in brain dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. In this theoretical review paper, we present an overview of the literature on the chronic health effects of PTSD. We discuss the brain networks underlying PTSD in the context of autonomic efferent and afferent contributions and how disruption of these networks leads to poor health outcomes. Finally, we discuss treatment approaches based on our theoretical model of PTSD.Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:1571. · 2.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent research in the areas of neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, and genetics is reviewed providing convincing evidence for why and how the effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Specifically, the research reviewed herein indicates that (a) the brain experiences peer victimization in a similar way to physical pain, (b) peer victimization is robustly linked to dysregulation of the neuroendocrine response to stress, (c) certain genetic profiles place bullied children at greater risk for poorer sequelae, and (d) the experiences of peer victimization become biologically embedded in the physiology of the developing person, placing him or her at risk for life-long mental and physical health problems. These studies highlight the urgent need to prioritize the reduction of bullying.Theory Into Practice 10/2013; 52(4):241-248. · 0.54 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) was recently moved to a full category in the DSM-5 (the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It also appears set for inclusion as a separate disorder in the ICD-11 (the upcoming edition of the World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems). This paper argues that PMDD should not be listed in the DSM or the ICD at all, adding to the call to recognise PMDD as a socially constructed disorder. I first present the argument that PMDD pathologises understandable anger/distress and that to do so is potentially dangerous. I then present evidence that PMDD is a culture-bound phenomenon, not a universal one. I also argue that even if (1) medication produces a desired effect, (2) there are biological correlates with premenstrual anger/distress, (3) such anger/distress seems to occur monthly, and (4) women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with affective disorders, none of these factors substantiates that premenstrual anger/distress is caused by a mental disorder. I argue that to assume they do is to ignore the now accepted role that one's environment and psychology play in illness development, as well as arguments concerning the social construction of mental illness. In doing so, I do not claim that there are no women who experience premenstrual distress or that their distress is not a lived experience. My point is that such distress can be recognised and considered significant without being pathologised and that it is unethical to describe premenstrual anger/distress as a mental disorder. Further, if the credibility of women's suffering is subject to doubt without a clinical diagnosis, then the way to address this problem is to change societal attitudes towards women's suffering, not to label women as mentally ill. The paper concludes with some broader implications for women and society of the change in status of PMDD in the DSM-5 as well as a sketch of critical policy suggestions to address these implications.Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 08/2014; · 0.59 Impact Factor