Cortisol reactivity to social stress in adolescents: role of depression severity and child maltreatment.

Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.
Psychoneuroendocrinology (Impact Factor: 5.59). 02/2011; 36(2):173-81. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.07.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examined the hypothesis that depressed adolescents with a history of childhood maltreatment will show greater cortisol reactivity to psychological stress challenge than those without, and this relation will be moderated by level of depression severity. Seventy-one adolescents were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test. Salivary cortisol was assessed at baseline, immediately before the challenge, after the challenge, and during an extended recovery period. Childhood maltreatment was assessed with a rigorous contextual interview and rating system. Adolescents with a history of maltreatment produced higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in response to the challenge than did adolescents with no maltreatment, but only among those with a mild/moderate level of depression severity. Those with moderate/severe depression exhibited a blunted cortisol response regardless of child maltreatment history. These findings indicate that depression is a heterogeneous syndrome, and that both depression severity and child maltreatment history should be considered in studies examining biological stress reactivity.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Terrorist attacks have been shown to precipitate posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology in children and adolescents, particularly among youths with high exposure to media coverage surrounding such events. Media exposure may be particularly likely to trigger PTSD symptoms in youths with high physiological reactivity to stress or with prior psychopathology or exposure to violence. We examined the interplay between media exposure, preattack psychopathology, autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity, and prior violence exposure in predicting PTSD symptom onset following the terrorist attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
    Depression and Anxiety 07/2014; 31(7):551-8. · 4.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Childhood maltreatment has been shown to have a stronger etiological relation to depression onset in adolescence than in adulthood. We propose that a maltreatment history may more strongly sensitize individuals to the depressogenic effects of proximal stressful life events in adolescence compared to adulthood. In an amalgamated sample of 176 unipolar depressed adolescents (age 12-17) and emerging adults (age 18-29), we examined the moderating role of age group on the relation of childhood maltreatment to sensitization to stressors that occurred just prior to episode onset. Among adolescents, but not among adults, those with a maltreatment history reported a lower severity level of life events prior to episode onset than reported by those without such a history. Further, this relation was specific to emotional abuse, and not physical or sexual abuse. We suggest that the pathological mechanisms associated with translating childhood maltreatment to depression may differ across developmental periods.
    Journal of Adolescence 06/2014; 37(6):871-882. · 2.05 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The effects of early life adversity can be observed across the lifespan, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes could be mechanistic intermediaries underlying this phenomenon. The current study examined 50 adolescent males aged 12-18 in a maximum-security correctional and treatment setting. Saliva samples were collected five times a day for 2 days and assayed for cortisol, testosterone, and DHEA. Youth completed semi-structured life stress interviews and self-reports of child maltreatment to index adversity. When youth had higher testosterone levels, they had higher cortisol and DHEA levels, indicating positive "coupling" of the HPA-HPG axes. In addition, children experiencing greater life adversity had tighter coupling of the HPA-HPG axes. Additional analyses hint that coupling may be driven largely by HPG axis functioning. Results indicate that positive coupling of the HPA-HPG axis is observed within incarcerated adolescents, especially for those with the greatest life stress. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol.
    Developmental Psychobiology 09/2014; · 3.16 Impact Factor


Available from
Oct 21, 2014