Background: Cognitive interpretations of stressful events impact their implications for physiological stress processes. However, whether such interpretations are related to trait cortisol-an indicator of individual differences in stress physiology-is unknown. In 112 early adolescent girls (M age = 12.39 years), this study examined the association between self-blame estimates for past year events and latent trait cortisol, and whether maternal warmth moderated effects. Overestimating self-blame (versus objective indices) for independent (uncontrollable) events was associated with lower latent trait cortisol, and maternal warmth moderated the effect of self-blame estimates on latent trait cortisol for each dependent (at least partially controllable) and interpersonal events. Implications for understanding the impact of cognitive and interpersonal factors on trait cortisol during early adolescence are discussed.
Background: Despite extensive literature positing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis as a mechanism in the association between early childhood maltreatment and later adult psychopathology, empirical support for this full pathway is lacking. We tested indirect effects of childhood maltreatment on women’s later affective symptomatology via HPA axis responding to a stressor involving their own infant. Women (n = 47) in a larger longitudinal study were assessed following the birth of their infant from 3 to 18 months postnatal. They reported childhood maltreatment history at 3 months and participated in a dyadic stress task with their infant at 12 months, at which time four salivary cortisol samples were collected to assess HPA response. Depression and anxiety symptoms at 18 months (controlling for symptom levels reported at 12 months) served as the primary outcome. Multilevel modeling was used to estimate both levels and dynamics of women’s cortisol response trajectories. Tests of indirect effects revealed a significant effect of total Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) scores on anxiety symptoms and a marginally significant effect on depression symptoms. Follow-up analyses with CTQ subscales revealed significant indirect effects of emotional and physical abuse on women’s ongoing anxiety symptoms via more pronounced cortisol reactivity curves during the mother-infant stressor. We discuss methodological choices that may have allowed these effects to be detected in the present study and implications for stress-related risk and intervention.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE
Letter of Intent Deadline: November 15, 2018
Facilitated by advances in salivary bioscience, great strides over the past several decades have been made in understanding how psychological and social factors “get under the skin.” Research utilizing salivary markers of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity, sympathetic nervous system activation, as well as other neuroendocrine and immune processes has greatly contributed to research in behavioral medicine. This has included more precise identification of the biological pathways by which such factors influence health and disease. Behavioral medicine research increasingly integrates advanced clinical and laboratory assessments of relevant immune system and neuroendocrine markers in saliva to identify mechanisms, stress processes, and evaluate the impact of clinical intervention on physiological systems. This special call aims to highlight novel contributions of salivary bioscience to behavioral medicine with emphasis on research relevant to chronic management, the influence of psychological and social factors on disease processes and understanding stress processes. This can include observational, experimental, and intervention research. In fact, papers that document how changes in salivary levels of health-relevant biomarkers in response to behavioral interventions contribute to intervention efficacy are encouraged. Research that bridges the intersections of behavioral medicine and other areas of research (e.g., neuroscience, medical practice, nursing, public health, health psychology) are likely to make a strong contribution.
Research suggests that early adversity places individuals at risk for psychopathology across the life span. Guided by concepts of allostasis and allostatic load, the present study examined whether early adversity contributes to the development of subsequent internalizing symptoms through its association with traitlike individual differences in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation. Early adolescent girls (n = 113; M age = 12.30 years) provided saliva samples at waking, 30 min postwaking, and bedtime over 3 days (later assayed for cortisol). Objective contextual stress interviews with adolescents and their mothers were used to assess the accumulation of nine types of early adversity within the family environment. Greater early adversity predicted subsequent increases in internalizing symptoms through lower levels of latent trait cortisol. Traitlike individual differences in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity may be among the mechanisms through which early adversity confers risk for the development of psychopathology.