Affective Disorders Unit and Laboratory

London, United Kingdom

Affective Disorders Unit and Laboratory

London, United Kingdom

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Suzuki A.,King's College London | Poon L.,Affective Disorders Unit and Laboratory | Papadopoulos A.S.,Affective Disorders Unit and Laboratory | Kumari V.,King's College London | Cleare A.J.,King's College London
Psychoneuroendocrinology | Year: 2014

Background and aims: Childhood trauma may have longstanding effects on individuals' propensity to react adversely to stress, and also predisposes individuals to suffer from depression. The current study aimed to examine stress reactivity in individuals with and without a history of childhood trauma by measuring cortisol responses to the passive viewing of stressful images, specifically including images relevant to childhood trauma. In addition, participants with and without a diagnosis of current depression were studied to investigate whether cortisol stress reactivity may underlie resilience or vulnerability to depression. Methods: The study involved 17 healthy participants with and 24 without a history of childhood trauma; and 21 depressed patients with and 18 without a history of childhood trauma. Salivary cortisol was measured before, during and after participants were shown affectively laden images, including standardised scenes from the International Affective Picture System and also images suggestive of childhood abuse. Cortisol stress reactivity to the passive image viewing was compared between groups. Results: In those who had experienced childhood trauma, cortisol stress responses were overall low and the same in those who were depressed and those who were not (mean stress reactivity variable - depressed: 0.8. nmol/l; non-depressed: 0.72. nmol/l). In contrast, cortisol stress reactivity was raised in depressed subjects relative to those who were not depressed in those without a history of childhood trauma (mean stress reactivity variable - depressed: 3.75. nmol/l; non-depressed: 0.1. nmol/l). Conclusions: A history of childhood trauma has longstanding effects on adulthood cortisol responses to stress, particularly in that depressed individuals with a history of childhood trauma show blunted cortisol responses. However, there were no differences between abused depressed and abused non-depressed subjects on cortisol stress responses, suggesting that such a finding does not explain subsequent susceptibility to depression. On the other hand, patients who experience depression without a history of childhood trauma show enhanced cortisol stress reactivity, which could help explain the aetiology of their depressive illnesses. Differences between the current findings and those using other pharmacological and stress challenge paradigms may relate to the type of stimuli used and to dysfunction at different levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Herane Vives A.,King's College London | Herane Vives A.,University of Chile | De Angel V.,University of Chile | Papadopoulos A.,King's College London | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Psychiatric Research | Year: 2015

Background: Stress is an established important contributor to the development of mental illness and stress related disorders. The biology implicated in the homeostasis of pathological stress mechanisms is not fully established. One of the difficulties with current techniques is the limitation in capturing chronic levels of cortisol as an expression of stress levels in humans. Hair samples can be used to evaluate cortisol levels averaged over relatively long periods of time, therefore providing a more valid measure of chronic levels of this hormone. A highly replicable technique to measure long-term cortisol could prove pivotal in improving our understanding of the role of stress in psychiatric disorders. Methods: This review synthesises all the published studies relating hair cortisol concentration (HCC) to stress and to psychiatric disorders. It describes and summarises their findings with the aim of providing a summary picture of the current state of this line of research. Results: The strongest finding to date is the replicable increases in hair cortisol associated with stressful life events. Findings in psychiatric disorders are more sparse and inconsistent. There is some support for the presence of raised HCC in major depressive disorders, and for lowered HCC in posttraumatic stress disorder, suggesting chronic hypercortisolaemia and hypocortisolaemia respectively. Conclusions: HCC is a promising methodology to study chronic cortisol levels with the potential to help characterise psychiatric and stress related disorders. The combination of chronic and acute cortisol measurements has the potential for more accurately determining different aspects of the stress response, and ultimately for the development of a biological marker to aid diagnosis and response to treatment. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | Affective Disorders Unit and Laboratory and King's College London
Type: | Journal: Psychoneuroendocrinology | Year: 2014

Childhood trauma may have longstanding effects on individuals propensity to react adversely to stress, and also predisposes individuals to suffer from depression. The current study aimed to examine stress reactivity in individuals with and without a history of childhood trauma by measuring cortisol responses to the passive viewing of stressful images, specifically including images relevant to childhood trauma. In addition, participants with and without a diagnosis of current depression were studied to investigate whether cortisol stress reactivity may underlie resilience or vulnerability to depression.The study involved 17 healthy participants with and 24 without a history of childhood trauma; and 21 depressed patients with and 18 without a history of childhood trauma. Salivary cortisol was measured before, during and after participants were shown affectively laden images, including standardised scenes from the International Affective Picture System and also images suggestive of childhood abuse. Cortisol stress reactivity to the passive image viewing was compared between groups.In those who had experienced childhood trauma, cortisol stress responses were overall low and the same in those who were depressed and those who were not (mean stress reactivity variable - depressed: 0.8 nmol/l; non-depressed: 0.72 nmol/l). In contrast, cortisol stress reactivity was raised in depressed subjects relative to those who were not depressed in those without a history of childhood trauma (mean stress reactivity variable - depressed: 3.75 nmol/l; non-depressed: 0.1 nmol/l).A history of childhood trauma has longstanding effects on adulthood cortisol responses to stress, particularly in that depressed individuals with a history of childhood trauma show blunted cortisol responses. However, there were no differences between abused depressed and abused non-depressed subjects on cortisol stress responses, suggesting that such a finding does not explain subsequent susceptibility to depression. On the other hand, patients who experience depression without a history of childhood trauma show enhanced cortisol stress reactivity, which could help explain the aetiology of their depressive illnesses. Differences between the current findings and those using other pharmacological and stress challenge paradigms may relate to the type of stimuli used and to dysfunction at different levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

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