[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To test the hypothesis that perfectionism is an important moderator of the neuroendocrine stress response, with higher perfectionism predicting increased neuroendocrine activation.
A total of 50 middle-aged men underwent an acute standardized psychosocial stress task (Trier Social Stress Test). Perfectionism, cognitive appraisal of the stressful situation, trait anxiety, and various personality characteristics were assessed with questionnaires. Salivary cortisol, plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine, blood pressure, and heart rate were analyzed before and after stress. Circadian profiles of cortisol secretion during the day and in response to awakening were analyzed to assess basal activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify predictors of the neuroendocrine stress response.
Perfectionism was significantly associated with area under the total response curve with respect to increase (AUCi) of cortisol (r = 0.322, p = .046), but not with AUCi of norepinephrine (r = -0.217, p = .152) or AUCi of epinephrine (r = 0.116, p = .477). Hence, AUCi of cortisol was the main criterion. As possible predictors, trait anxiety, neuroticism, vital exhaustion, secondary appraisal, depression, and openness were considered. Regression analyses demonstrated that only perfectionism (beta = 0.45, p = .002) and secondary appraisal (beta = 0.50, p = .001) were independent predictors of AUCi of cortisol, the final model explaining 45% of the total variance in cortisol response (R2 = 0.45, "shrunken" R2 [sR2] = 0.38); perfectionism alone accounted for 18% of this variance (deltaR2 = 0.18, sR2 = 0.19).
The typical cognitions, and presumably the associated emotions, of perfectionists seem to contribute independently to stress-induced bodily responses, including HPA axis activation, in response to psychosocial stress.
Psychosomatic Medicine 05/2007; 69(3):249-55. · 4.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acute mental stress elicits blood hypercoagulability. Following a transactional stress model, we investigated whether individuals who anticipate stress as more threatening, challenging, and as exceeding their coping skills show greater stress reactivity of the coagulation activation marker D-dimer, indicating fibrin generation in plasma.
Forty-seven men (mean age 44 +/- 14 years; mean blood pressure [MBP] 101 +/- 12 mm Hg; mean body mass index [BMI] 26 +/- 3 kg/m(2)) completed the Primary Appraisal Secondary Appraisal (PASA) scale before undergoing the Trier Social Stress Test (combination of mock job interview and mental arithmetic task). Heart rate, blood pressure, plasma catecholamines, and D-dimer levels were measured before and after stress, and during recovery up to 60 minutes poststress.
Hemodynamic measures, catecholamines, and D-dimer changed across all time points (p values <.001). The PASA "Stress Index" (integrated measure of transactional stress perception) correlated with total D-dimer area under the curve (AUC) between rest and 60 minutes poststress (r = 0.30, p = .050) and with D-dimer change from rest to immediately poststress (r = 0.29, p = .046). Primary appraisal (combined "threat" and "challenge") correlated with total D-dimer AUC (r = 0.37, p = .017), D-dimer stress change (r = 0.41, p = .004), and D-dimer recovery (r = 0.32, p = .042). "Challenge" correlated more strongly with D-dimer stress change than "threat" (p = .020). Primary appraisal (DeltaR(2) = 0.098, beta = 0.37, p = .019), and particularly its subscale "challenge" (DeltaR(2) = 0.138, beta = 0.40, p = .005), predicted D-dimer stress change independently of age, BP, BMI, and catecholamine change.
Anticipatory cognitive appraisal determined the extent of coagulation activation to and recovery from stress in men. Particularly individuals who anticipated the stressor as more challenging and also more threatening had a greater fibrin stress response.
Psychosomatic Medicine 01/2006; 68(6):851-8. · 4.08 Impact Factor