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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Nov;73:217-223. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Aug 7.

The role of anxiety in cortisol stress response and cortisol recovery in boys with oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands; Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, P.O. Box 9600, 2300 RC, Leiden, The Netherlands. Electronic address: j.schoorl@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.
2
Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands; Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, P.O. Box 9600, 2300 RC, Leiden, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Adolescent Development, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent Studies, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands; School of Psychology, Cardiff University, P.O. Box 901, Cardiff CF10 3AT, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Children with antisocial and aggressive behaviors have been found to show abnormal neurobiological responses to stress, specifically impaired cortisol stress reactivity. The role of individual characteristics, such as comorbid anxiety, in the stress response is far less studied. Furthermore, this study extended previous studies in that not only baseline and reactivity to a psychosocial stressor were examined, but also recovery from a stressor. These three phases of cortisol could be impacted differentially in boys with oppositional defiant disorder/conduct disorder (ODD/CD) with (+ANX) and without anxiety (-ANX). The results revealed that cortisol patterns in response to psychosocial stress were different for boys with ODD/CD+ANX (n=32), ODD/CD-ANX (n=22) and non-clinical controls (NC) (n=34), with age range of 7.8-12.9 years. The ODD/CD-ANX group showed lower overall cortisol levels than the NC group. When considering the three phases of cortisol separately, the ODD/CD-ANX group had lower baseline cortisol levels relative to the other groups, whereas the ODD/CD+ANX showed an impaired cortisol recovery response. Within those with ODD/CD, callous-unemotional traits were predictive of high baseline cortisol levels. Also, anxiety predicted high baseline and recovery cortisol levels, whereas a high number of CD symptoms predicted reduced cortisol stress reactivity. These results clearly indicate that comorbid anxiety is an important factor in explaining differences in stress response profiles in boys with ODD/CD; although boys with CD/ODD are generally characterized by an impaired cortisol stress response, we found that those with comorbid anxiety showed impaired cortisol recovery, whereas those without anxiety showed reduced baseline cortisol levels.

KEYWORDS:

Anxiety; Conduct disorder; Cortisol recovery; Cortisol stress reactivity; Oppositional defiant disorder; Stress

PMID:
27521740
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.08.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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