Salivary cortisol and posttraumatic stress disorder in a low-income community sample of women.
ABSTRACT Studies of male combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder have demonstrated a profile of low cortisol. Studies with women with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have focused on childhood sexual abuse and holocaust survivors, both of whom experienced trauma during development, which could be different than adult trauma exposure.
Using an epidemiologic sample of low-income women from an urban area in Michigan, we conducted structured psychiatric interviews and saliva cortisol collection on a subsample of women with exposure to trauma but never PTSD (n = 72), recent PTSD (n = 29), and past PTSD (n = 70). Saliva cortisol was collected at awakening, 30 minutes later, at bedtime, and during a clinic visit.
Recent trauma exposure but not past trauma exposure led to an increase in saliva cortisol. Neither recent PTSD nor past PTSD resulted in any saliva cortisol changes compared with the trauma exposed, never PTSD group. Recent major depression (past 12 months) demonstrated a weak effect (p =.08) on bedtime saliva cortisol.
While recent trauma exposure can increase saliva cortisol, neither recent nor past PTSD affected saliva cortisol in our community sample of women. Our data do not support saliva cortisol changes associated with PTSD.
Article: Women with PTSD have lower basal salivary cortisol levels later in the day than do men with PTSD: a preliminary study.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Acute stress responses of women are typically more reactive than that of men. Women, compared to men, may be more vulnerable to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether there are differences between women and men with PTSD in levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, was investigated in a pilot study. Methods: women (n=6) and men (n=3) motor vehicle accident (MVA) survivors, with PTSD, had saliva collected at 1400 h, 1800 h, and 2200 h. Cortisol levels in saliva were measured by radioimmunoassay. An interaction between gender and time of sample collection was observed due to women's cortisol levels being lower and decreasing over time, whereas men's levels were higher and increased across time of day of collection. Results of this pilot study suggest a difference in the pattern of disruption of glucocorticoid secretion among women and men with PTSD. Women had greater suppression of their basal cortisol levels than did men; however, the diurnal pattern for cortisol levels to decline throughout the day was observed among the women but not the men.Physiology & Behavior 07/2009; 99(2):234-6. · 2.87 Impact Factor
Article: Hair Cortisol as a Biomarker of Traumatization in Healthy Individuals and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Patients.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Previous evidence on endocrine correlates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been rather inconsistent. The analysis of cortisol in hair is a recent methodological development that may increase the quality of long-term cortisol assessments in such research. Here, we use this method to closely assess hair cortisol relationships with trauma-related characteristics and PTSD symptom patterns. METHODS: Hair cortisol concentrations (HCC), diurnal salivary cortisol, and relevant psychometric data were assessed in matched groups of 28 PTSD patients and 27 traumatized and 32 nontraumatized healthy control subjects. Cortisol levels were quantified by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. RESULTS: Posttraumatic stress disorder patients and traumatized control subjects exhibited 59% and 51% lower HCC than nontraumatized control subjects, respectively. Hair cortisol concentrations were found to be negatively related to the severity of intrusion symptoms, the number of different lifetime traumatic events, the frequency of traumatization, and the time interval since traumatization. The overall pattern of HCC associations was not reflected in short-term salivary cortisol findings. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that trauma exposure per se, either in the absence or presence of PTSD, is a crucial correlate of long-term basal cortisol levels. Particularly, the experience of multiple events with a longer time since traumatization and an increased severity of intrusion symptoms may be related to hypocortisolism. The fact that HCC findings were not consistently seen in salivary cortisol data underscores the importance of the method of cortisol assessment and highlights the utility of hair cortisol analyses for future biological psychiatry research.Biological psychiatry 04/2013; · 8.93 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Research linking post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to hypercortisolism in laboratory experiments was extended to a natural clinical setting. Mothers of children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness (N = 92) completed standardized measures of PTSD and provided a salivary cortisol sample during their child's medical check-up (Time 1) and again 24h later, after the threat of possible negative medical reports was removed (Time 2). Women who met diagnostic criteria for PTSD exhibited significantly higher cortisol levels at Time 1 compared to women who did not meet criteria for a diagnosis. No significant differences were observed for cortisol levels at Time 2 between the women with and without PTSD. These findings extend current laboratory findings linking hypercortisolism and PTSD to a natural, stressful situation. Implications for understanding the etiology of PTSD as well as for possible prevention and intervention options are discussed.Journal of anxiety disorders 12/2011; 26(2):352-8. · 2.68 Impact Factor