Assessing Hormones in Response to Trauma
Klein, Corina E.
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Hormones produced in the body may be important in ameliorating the effects of traumatic stress. Previous research bas shown that the concentration of several hormones, such as cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA-sulfated (DHEAS) in a given individual who has been exposed to a traumatic event may be indicative of the likelihood that the individual will develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The current study assessed whether higher levels of cortisol in comparison to DHEA or DHEAS could indicate a predisposition toward future mental illness following an emotionally stressful event. Female students from Northern lllinois University provided salivary samples before and following a writing task intended to induce emotional stress. The samples were analyzed for cortisol, DHEA, and DHEAS levels. Results indicated both cortisol and DHEA were reduced after the writing task, although no significant relationship between the hormones and PTSD symptoms after the stressor. The participants' levels of DHEA prior to the stressor seemed to be predictive of PTSD symptom presence after the stressor.