Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Objective: To test if the covariance of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and subjective-psychological responses to stress is dependent on different dynamics of these systems. Although stress theories typically assume substantial correlations of psychological and endocrine stress responses, studies have produced inconsistent results. One reason for this might be imperfect coupling of the different stress response systems. However, inconsistent correlations might also be a result of different on-/offsets of these stress responses, i.e., specific dynamics of the systems. Methods: HPA axis indicators and subjective-psychological states were repeatedly and synchronously measured in a pharmacological challenge test (injection of corticotropin-releasing hormone and infusion of arginine vasopressin; Study 1; n = 42) and a psychosocial stress situation (Trier Social Stress Test; Study 2; n = 219). Cross-correlation analysis was used to test for lag effects in HPA axis reactivity and psychoendocrine responses. Results: Analyses revealed high cross-correlations of adrenocorticotropic hormone with cortisol responses (up to r =.80 in Study 1 and r =.56 in Study 2) and positive associations of psychological with endocrine stress responses (up to r =.48 in Study 1 and r =.54 in Study 2) at nonzero lags. Subjective-psychological responses preceded HPA axis responses. Moreover, high levels of cortisol were associated with lower later levels of anxiety and activation. Conclusions: The findings suggest that psychoendocrine stress responses are more closely coupled than previous studies suggested. Due to different dynamics of the systems, endocrine responses lag behind psychological responses. Copyright © 2008 by the American Psychosomatic Society.

Original publication

DOI

10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181810658

Type

Journal article

Journal

Psychosomatic Medicine

Publication Date

01/01/2008

Volume

70

Pages

787 - 796