No PTSD-related differences in diurnal cortisol profiles of genocide survivors

Eckart, Cindy and Engler, Harald and Riether, Carsten and Kolassa, Stephan and Elbert, Thomas and Kolassa, Iris- Tatjana (2009) No PTSD-related differences in diurnal cortisol profiles of genocide survivors. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34 (4). pp. 523-531.

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Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with reduced cortisol levels. Opposing results have been interpreted as resulting from methodological differences between studies. We investigated the diurnal profile of salivary cortisol in a population of highly traumatized adult males from Rwanda with and without PTSD, who spent the whole day of examination together under a maximally standardized schedule. Besides the detection of PTSD-related alterations in cortisol release we aimed at determining physiologically relevant effects of cumulative trauma exposure on HPA functioning in interaction with or independent of diagnosis. There were no differences in the diurnal pattern of cortisol release between subjects with and without PTSD. We observed an increasing prevalence of PTSD with increasing number of different traumatic event types experienced, replicating earlier results on a “building-block effect” of multiple traumatization. However, size of cumulative exposure was not related to any of the cortisol measures. The results suggest that besides methodological constraints also confounding factors not previously controlled for, e.g., sex differences or current life stress, might contribute to the diverging results of lowered, unchanged or enhanced cortisol secretion in PTSD. Future research should therefore closely monitor these possible confounds to optimize models for cortisol in research on stress-dependent illnesses.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Psychoneuroendocrinology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2800/2803
Subjects:
ID Code:
134036
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
22 Jun 2019 09:14
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
01 Jan 2020 12:02