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Psychol Rep. 2004 Apr;94(2):408-10.

Responsivity to stress in chronic posttraumatic stress disorder due to childhood sexual abuse.

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  • 1Delta Psychiatric Hospital, Poortugaal, The Netherlands. ursulak@ggzba.nl


The purpose of this study was to investigate psychological, cardiovascular, and neuroendocrine reactivity to standardized stress tests (orthostatic challenge, Stroop Color Word Test) in drug-free adult women with chronic PTSD due to repetitive childhood sexual abuse. At baseline, the 11 patients showed significantly higher mean scores on the Symptom Check List-90 and the Profile of Mood States than 13 healthy female controls, whereas baseline cardiovascular or hormonal parameters showed no differences between the groups. Also, no significant differences were found between the two groups in cardiovascular and hormonal responsivity to the stress tests. Thus, in the presence of robust psychological differences, the patients with chronic PTSD due to childhood sexual abuse did not show alterations in baseline values of neurobiological parameters, nor did they react differently to a physical and mental stress test when compared to healthy controls.

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