Predicting Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms During Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study of The Role of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction
Description: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a trauma-related disorder that may develop in response to traumatic or stressful events. Dysfunction of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis has been implicated in the disorder. Studies support such dysfunction as being a consequence of PTSD, rather than a precursor. However, most studies of the HPA are either cross-sectional or have been carried out in adults. The aim of the present study was to identify whether HPA dysregulation interacts with stressful experiences to increase the likelihood of developing PTSD symptoms in a community-recruited sample of healthy adolescent girls. Adolescent girls (N = 550) and one of their parents participated. Adolescents’ clinical symptoms were assessed at baseline and at a nine month follow-up. Saliva samples were collected from all adolescent participants at waking, 30 minutes after waking, and 8 pm on 3 consecutive days. Flattened diurnal slope of cortisol at baseline was associated with increased PTSD symptoms nine months later. Baseline cortisol awakening response (CAR) per se was not prospectively related to developing PTSD symptoms, but its interactions with stressful experience was associated with elevated PTSD symptoms at follow-up. Effects were small and need to be replicated in samples with more severe stressors, as well as more clinical levels of PTSD. Nevertheless, findings suggest that dysregulated basal HPA functioning may be involved in the development of PTSD symptoms.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Liu, Keke
Partner: UNT Libraries