Center for Studies on Human Stress

Human, Spain

Center for Studies on Human Stress

Human, Spain
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Lupien S.J.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Lupien S.J.,University Institute of Mental Health | Lupien S.J.,University of Montréal | Sasseville M.,University Institute of Mental Health | And 15 more authors.
Stress | Year: 2017

In 2008, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) announced that in the next few decades, it will be essential to study the various biological, psychological and social “signatures” of mental disorders. Along with this new “signature” approach to mental health disorders, modifications of DSM were introduced. One major modification consisted of incorporating a dimensional approach to mental disorders, which involved analyzing, using a transnosological approach, various factors that are commonly observed across different types of mental disorders. Although this new methodology led to interesting discussions of the DSM5 working groups, it has not been incorporated in the last version of the DSM5. Consequently, the NIMH launched the “Research Domain Criteria” (RDoC) framework in order to provide new ways of classifying mental illnesses based on dimensions of observable behavioral and neurobiological measures. The NIMH emphasizes that it is important to consider the benefits of dimensional measures from the perspective of psychopathology and environmental influences, and it is also important to build these dimensions on neurobiological data. The goal of this paper is to present the perspectives of DSM5 and RDoC to the science of mental health disorders and the impact of this debate on the future of human stress research. The second goal is to present the “Signature Bank” developed by the Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal (IUSMM) that has been developed in line with a dimensional and transnosological approach to mental illness. © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


Raymond C.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Raymond C.,University of Montréal | Marin M.-F.,University of Montréal | Majeur D.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | And 3 more authors.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry | Year: 2017

Early adversity (EA) has been shown to be a potent risk factor for developing a psychopathology in adulthood. Alterations of the stress system in addition to changes in brain development have been suggested to explain some of the psychopathologies associated with EA. The stress response involves the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis, which leads to the production of glucocorticoids (GCs; cortisol in humans). Being soluble in lipids, GCs easily cross the blood brain barrier and access GC receptors in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala. These three brain structures do not develop at the same rhythm in humans and recent models suggest that exposition to EA at different times throughout cerebral development can induce a differential vulnerability to diverse mental illnesses. Although these models are of interest, they do not provide any mechanism(s) through which exposition to EA could lead to an increased vulnerability to certain mental illnesses and not others. Interestingly, the main brain structures that are affected by the chronic secretion of stress hormones during childhood (hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala) are differentially involved in various cognitive functions (memory, emotion regulation, encoding of emotional memories, etc.). It is therefore proposed that exposure to EA, by affecting the development of specific brain structures, might alter the underlying cognitive process of these brain regions, and increase vulnerability to specific mental disorders in adulthood. © 2017.


Juster R.-P.,University of Montréal | Juster R.-P.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Juster R.-P.,McGill University | Marin M.-F.,University of Montréal | And 9 more authors.
Physiology and Behavior | Year: 2011

Allostatic load represents the strain that chronic stress exerts on interconnected biological systems. Associated algorithms are related to numerous deleterious physical outcomes in older populations, and yet few studies have assessed associations to mental health outcomes like geriatric depression. Using data from the Douglas Hospital Longitudinal Study of Normal and Pathological Aging, we assessed whether using an allostatic load index derived from seven biomarkers could detect self-rated depressive symptoms in 58 healthy older adults followed longitudinally over a 6-year period. Our results revealed that increased allostatic load was associated with increased depressive symptoms on the same year of assessment. After 3. years, AL was prospectively associated with depressive symptoms, but entering age and sex as covariates attenuated this effect to a trend. Only age emerged as a significant predictor of depressive symptoms over 6. years. These findings suggest that increased AL in older age is only associated with depressive symptomatology acutely. Over longer periods of time, however, the physical and psychological sequelae of advanced age may contribute to increased depressive symptoms via pathways otherwise undetectable using allostatic load indices of sub-clinical physiological dysregulations. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Bizik G.,Charles University | Picard M.,Children's Hospital of Philadelphia | Nijjar R.,Concordia University at Montréal | Tourjman V.,Louis H Lafontaine Hospital | And 8 more authors.
Harvard Review of Psychiatry | Year: 2013

Severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are disabling, chronic conditions that are often accompanied by medical comorbidities. In this theoretical article, we review the allostatic load model representing the "wear and tear" that chronic stress exacts on the brain and body. We propose an innovative way of monitoring physical and psychiatric comorbidities by integrating the allostatic load model into clinical practice. By interpreting peripheral biomarkers differently, medical professionals can calculate a simple, count-based, allostatic load index known to predict diverse stress-related pathologies. In addition to screening for comorbidities, allostatic load indices can be used to monitor the effects of pharmacological and psychosocial interventions. This framework can also be used to generate a dialogue between patient and practitioner to promote preventive and proactive approaches to health care. © 2013 President and Fellows of Harvard College.


Juster R.-P.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Juster R.-P.,McGill University | Hatzenbuehler M.L.,Columbia University | Mendrek A.,University of Montréal | And 14 more authors.
Biological Psychiatry | Year: 2015

Background Biological sex differences and sociocultural gender diversity influence endocrine stress reactivity. Although numerous studies have shown that men typically activate stronger stress responses than women when exposed to laboratory-based psychosocial stressors, it is unclear whether sexual orientation further modulates stress reactivity. Given that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals frequently report heightened distress secondary to stigma-related stressors, we investigated whether cortisol stress reactivity differs between LGB individuals and heterosexual individuals in response to a well-validated psychosocial stressor. Methods The study population comprised 87 healthy adults (mean age, 25 years) who were grouped according to their biological sex and their gendered sexual orientation: lesbian/bisexual women (n = 20), heterosexual women (n = 21), gay/bisexual men (n = 26), and heterosexual men (n = 20). Investigators collected 10 salivary cortisol samples throughout a 2-hour afternoon visit involving exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test modified to maximize between-sex differences. Results Relative to heterosexual women, lesbian/bisexual women showed higher cortisol stress reactivity 40 min after exposure to the stressor. In contrast, gay/bisexual men displayed lower overall cortisol concentrations throughout testing compared with heterosexual men. Main findings were significant while adjusting for sex hormones (estradiol-to-progesterone ratio in women and testosterone in men), age, self-esteem, and disclosure status (whether LGB participants had completed their "coming out"). Conclusions Our results provide novel evidence for gender-based modulation of cortisol stress reactivity based on sexual orientation that goes beyond well-established between-sex differences. This study raises several important avenues for future research related to the physiologic functioning of LGB populations and gender diversity more broadly. © 2015 Society of Biological Psychiatry.


Juster R.-P.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Juster R.-P.,McGill University | Perna A.,University of Ottawa | Marin M.-F.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | And 5 more authors.
Stress | Year: 2012

Psychological states of anticipation modulate biological stress responsivity. While researchers generally investigate how subjective distress corresponds to the magnitude of stress reactivity, physiological recovery after acute stressors must also be considered when investigating disease vulnerabilities. This study assessed whether anticipatory stress would correspond to stress reactivity and recovery of salivary cortisol and blood pressure levels in response to a well-validated psychosocial stressor. Thirty participants (63% female; mean ± SEM age 45.4 ± 2.12 years) were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) consisting of a public speech and mental arithmetic. Ten salivary cortisol samples and systolic and diastolic blood pressure recordings were collected at time points spanning 50 min before and up to 50 min after stress exposure. These data were transformed into parameters representing stress reactivity (area under the curve) and stress recovery (percent change). The Primary Appraisal Secondary Appraisal scale assessed anticipatory stress before exposure to the TSST. Our results revealed that increased anticipatory stress predicted increased stress reactivity for cortisol (p 0.009) but not blood pressure. For stress recovery, increased anticipatory stress predicted greater decrements of cortisol concentration (p 0.015) and blood pressure (p 0.039), even when controlling for total systemic "output" by incorporating baseline activity. This efficient shutdown of stress responses would have otherwise been ignored by solely investigating reactive increases. These findings underscore the importance of measuring multiple dynamic parameters such as recovery when investigating physiological stress response patterns as a function of psychosocial factors. © 2012 Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.


Juster R.-P.,McGill University | Juster R.-P.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Moskowitz D.S.,McGill University | Lavoie J.,Montreal Heart Institute | And 2 more authors.
Stress | Year: 2013

Socio-demographics and workplace stress may affect men and women differently. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess sex-specific interactions among age, occupational status, and workplace Demand-Control- Support (D-C-S) factors in relation to psychiatric symptoms and allostatic load levels representing multi-systemic "wear and tear". It was hypothesized that beyond main effects, D-C-S factors would be moderated by occupational status and age in sex-specific directions predictive of subjective psychiatric symptoms and objective physiological dysregulations. Participants included healthy male (n 81) and female (n 118) Montreal workers aged 20 to 64 years (Men: M 39.4 years, SD 11.3; Women: M 42.8 years, SD 11.38). The Job Content Questionnaire was administered to assess workplace D-C-S factors that included psychological demands, decisional latitude, and social support. Occupational status was coded using the Nam-Powers-Boyd system derived from the Canadian census. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed using the Beck Anxiety Scale and the Beck Depression Inventory II. Sex-specific allostatic load indices were calculated based on fifteen biomarkers. Regression analyses revealed that higher social support was associated with less depressive symptoms in middle aged (p 0.033) and older men (p 0.027). Higher occupational status was associated with higher allostatic load levels for men (p 0.035), while the reverse occurred for women (p 0.048). Women with lower occupational status but with higher decision latitude had lower allostatic load levels, as did middle-aged (p 0.031) and older women (p 0.003) with higher psychological demands. In summary, age and occupational status moderated workplace stress in sex-specific ways that have occupational health implications. © 2013 Informa UK Ltd.


Juster R.-P.,University of Montréal | Juster R.-P.,Center for Studies on Human Stress | Juster R.-P.,McGill University | Lupien S.,University of Montréal | Lupien S.,Center for Studies on Human Stress
Gender Medicine | Year: 2012

Background: Biological sex and sociocultural gender influence stress-related diseases. Our goal was to explore whether sex and gender roles would predict both allostatic load and physical complaints. Objective: This study investigated whether sex- and gender-based factors would correspond to objective and subjective health outcomes. Methods: Thirty Montreal workers (mean [SE] age, 45.4 [2.1] years) participated. The 30-item Bem Sex Role Inventory was administered to assess scores for masculinity and femininity, which were then transformed into an androgyny index representing gender roles along a continuum. Fifteen biomarkers representing neuroendocrine, immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular systems were aggregated into an allostatic load index measuring physiological dysregulations. The 42-item Wahler Physical Symptoms Inventory was used to measure self-rated physical complaints. Results: Results using logistic and linear regressions controlling for age revealed that increased masculinity predicted inclusion in the high allostatic load group (P = 0.010; odds ratio = 0.715), and sex did not; increased masculinity and female sex together predicted increased physical complaints (P = 0.008; adjusted r 2= 0.30); and high allostatic load group membership corresponded to increased physical complaints adjusted (P = 0.001; adjusted r2 = 0.301). Conclusions: That higher masculinity was related to increased objective physiological dysregulations and subjective physical complaints suggests an increased vulnerability to hyperarousal pathologies, such as cardiovascular disease, among masculine-typed individuals. © 2012 Elsevier HS Journals, Inc.


PubMed | Center for Studies on Human Stress
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands) | Year: 2012

Psychological states of anticipation modulate biological stress responsivity. While researchers generally investigate how subjective distress corresponds to the magnitude of stress reactivity, physiological recovery after acute stressors must also be considered when investigating disease vulnerabilities. This study assessed whether anticipatory stress would correspond to stress reactivity and recovery of salivary cortisol and blood pressure levels in response to a well-validated psychosocial stressor. Thirty participants (63% female; meanSEM age 45.42.12 years) were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) consisting of a public speech and mental arithmetic. Ten salivary cortisol samples and systolic and diastolic blood pressure recordings were collected at time points spanning 50min before and up to 50min after stress exposure. These data were transformed into parameters representing stress reactivity (area under the curve) and stress recovery (percent change). The Primary Appraisal Secondary Appraisal scale assessed anticipatory stress before exposure to the TSST. Our results revealed that increased anticipatory stress predicted increased stress reactivity for cortisol (p=0.009) but not blood pressure. For stress recovery, increased anticipatory stress predicted greater decrements of cortisol concentration (p=0.015) and blood pressure (p=0.039), even when controlling for total systemic output by incorporating baseline activity. This efficient shutdown of stress responses would have otherwise been ignored by solely investigating reactive increases. These findings underscore the importance of measuring multiple dynamic parameters such as recovery when investigating physiological stress response patterns as a function of psychosocial factors.

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