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CORTISOL REACTIVITY TO EXPERIMENTALLY MANIPULATED PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS IN YOUNG ADULTS AT VARIED RISK FOR DEPRESSION

Authors

  • Matthew C. Morris Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
    • Correspondence to: Matthew C. Morris, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Meharry Medical College, 1005 Dr. D. B. Todd Jr. Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37208. E-mail: mmorris@mmc.edu

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  • Uma Rao M.D.,

    1. Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
    3. Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,, Tennessee
    4. Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,, Tennessee
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  • Lily Wang Ph.D.,

    1. Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,, Tennessee
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  • Judy Garber Ph.D.

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,, Tennessee
    2. Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,, Tennessee
    3. Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,, Tennessee
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  • Contract grant sponsor: Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual National Research Service Award; Contract grant number: F31 MH084425, Contract grant sponsor: Vanderbilt Institute for Clin-ical and Translational Research Award; Contract grant number: UL1 RR024975/TR000445; Contract grant sponsor: RCTR/MeTRC; Contract grant number: U54 RR026140/MD007593; Contract grant sponsor: National Institutes of Health; Contract grant numbers: R01 MH068391, T32 MH018921, R01 DA017805, R01 MH068391, G12 RR003032/MD007586, U54 RR026140/MD007593, R01 MH064735, 5P30 HD015052, and UL1 RR024975/TR000445; Contract grant sponsor: NICHD; Contract grant number: 5P30 HD015052.

Abstract

This study examined cortisol and affective reactivity to a psychosocial stress task in 102 young adults who varied in risk for depression (56 remitted depressed, 46 never depressed). Participants were randomly assigned to either a stress (i.e., social-evaluative threat) or control (i.e., no social-evaluative threat) condition. For never-depressed individuals, cortisol responses were significantly greater in the stress compared to the control condition. Moreover, cortisol responses were significantly greater for never-depressed than remitted-depressed individuals in the stress condition. For individuals with a history of depression, cortisol responses did not differ significantly between the stress and control conditions. Negative affective reactivity also was higher for never depressed, but not remitted depressed, individuals in the stress compared to the control condition. Moreover, cortisol responses were inversely related to negative affect during the recovery phase in both stress and control conditions. Findings indicate the lack of a robust cortisol response to social evaluation stress among remitted-depressed individuals as compared to that of never-depressed controls. Future studies should investigate unique and interactive links between these hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and affective reactivity alterations and risk for subsequent depressive episodes.

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