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Post-stress rumination predicts HPA axis responses to repeated acute stress


Gianferante, Danielle; Thoma, Myriam V; Hanlin, Luke; Chen, Xuejie; Breines, Juliana G; Zoccola, Peggy M; Rohleder, Nicolas (2014). Post-stress rumination predicts HPA axis responses to repeated acute stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 49:244-252.

Abstract

Failure of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to habituate to repeated stress exposure is related with adverse health outcomes, but our knowledge of predictors of non-habituation is limited. Rumination, defined as repetitive and unwanted past-centered negative thinking, is related with exaggerated HPA axis stress responses and poor health outcomes. The aim of this study was to test whether post-stress rumination was related with non-habituation of cortisol to repeated stress exposure. Twenty-seven participants (n=13 females) were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) twice on consecutive afternoons. Post-stress rumination was measured after the first TSST, and HPA axis responses were assessed by measuring salivary cortisol 1 min before, and 1, 10, 20, 60, and 120 min after both TSSTs. Stress exposure induced HPA axis activation on both days, and this activation showed habituation indicated by lower responses to the second TSST (F=3.7, p=0.015). Post-stress rumination after the first TSST was associated with greater cortisol reactivity after the initial stress test (r=0.45, p<0.05) and with increased cortisol responses to the second TSST (r=0.51, p<0.01), indicating non-habituation, independently of age, sex, depressive symptoms, perceived life stress, and trait rumination. In summary, results showed that rumination after stress predicted non-habituation of HPA axis responses. This finding implicates rumination as one possible mechanism mediating maladaptive stress response patterns, and it might also offer a pathway through which rumination might lead to negative health outcomes.

Abstract

Failure of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to habituate to repeated stress exposure is related with adverse health outcomes, but our knowledge of predictors of non-habituation is limited. Rumination, defined as repetitive and unwanted past-centered negative thinking, is related with exaggerated HPA axis stress responses and poor health outcomes. The aim of this study was to test whether post-stress rumination was related with non-habituation of cortisol to repeated stress exposure. Twenty-seven participants (n=13 females) were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) twice on consecutive afternoons. Post-stress rumination was measured after the first TSST, and HPA axis responses were assessed by measuring salivary cortisol 1 min before, and 1, 10, 20, 60, and 120 min after both TSSTs. Stress exposure induced HPA axis activation on both days, and this activation showed habituation indicated by lower responses to the second TSST (F=3.7, p=0.015). Post-stress rumination after the first TSST was associated with greater cortisol reactivity after the initial stress test (r=0.45, p<0.05) and with increased cortisol responses to the second TSST (r=0.51, p<0.01), indicating non-habituation, independently of age, sex, depressive symptoms, perceived life stress, and trait rumination. In summary, results showed that rumination after stress predicted non-habituation of HPA axis responses. This finding implicates rumination as one possible mechanism mediating maladaptive stress response patterns, and it might also offer a pathway through which rumination might lead to negative health outcomes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:November 2014
Deposited On:11 Mar 2015 16:49
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 12:32
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0306-4530
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.021
PubMed ID:25127082

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