Harkness KL, Stewart JG, Wynne-Edwards KE. Cortisol reactivity to social stress in adolescents: role of depression severity and child maltreatment. Psychoneuroendocrinology 36: 173-181

Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.
Psychoneuroendocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.94). 02/2011; 36(2):173-81. DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.07.006
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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.

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Available from: Kate L Harkness, Oct 21, 2014
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    • "This divergence in findings may arise in part due to methodological differences in the measurement of stress. In particular, studies using more rigorous, interview-based measures of stress often report that interviewer-rated stress is associated with decreased or ''blunted'' levels of salivary cortisol (e.g., Bosch et al., 2012; Harkness, Stewart, Wynne-Edwards, 2011). To our knowledge, no study to date has examined associations between HCC and psychosocial stress using an interview-based measure of stress, which is considered the gold standard in the field (McQuaid, Monroe, Roberts, Kupfer, & Frank, 2000; Monroe, 2008). "
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    Developmental Psychobiology 04/2015; 57(5). DOI:10.1002/dev.21302 · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    • "For stressors of longer duration (Essex et al., 2011; Heim et al., 1998; Yehuda, 2001) or which affect children early in development (Del Giudice et al., 2011; Tarullo and Gunnar, 2006), high cortisol may not be consistently observed. Indeed, even in response to acute challenges, cortisol levels appear blunted in some individuals previously exposed to chronic, extreme stress such as child physical abuse (Harkness et al., 2011; Kaufman et al., 1997; MacMillan et al., 2009; Ouellet-Morin et al., 2011; Rao et al., 2008). Consequently, chronic stress is capable "
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    • "It has been shown that chronic stress with its ongoing activation of the HPA axis can lead to cortisol dysregulation and thus is thought to result in several kinds of negative health outcomes [28]. An essential prerequisite for testing the HPA axis function is the assessment of the endogenous response of the HPA axis to mental stress [29], whereby the determination of cortisol is supposed to be a suitable method [30]. In particular, salivary cortisol is commonly accepted as an appropriate bioindicator [31]. "
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