Medically unexplained symptoms in women as related to physiological stress responses
2005 (English)In: Stress and Health, ISSN 1532-3005, E-ISSN 1532-2998, Vol. 21, no 1, 45-52 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The present, cross-sectional study explored whether self-reported symptoms are related to physiologicalstress indicators in a group of 43-year-old women representing the general populationin Sweden. Analyses were performed both on raw scores of physiological indicators and on a multisystemsummary index of allostatic load as a measure of cumulative biological burden. Participantsanswered a health questionnaire and underwent a medical examination including bloodpressure, heart rate measurements, determination of blood lipids and stress hormones. Urinaryepinephrine and norepinephrine were measured both on a working day and a work free day athome. In addition, salivary morning cortisol was measured on a non-work day. The physiologicalprofiles based on raw scores from 222 women showed that women with a high symptom loadhad significantly higher levels of cortisol (p < 0.05), and higher heart rate (p < 0.05) than didthose with a low symptom load. In contrast, women with a low symptom load had significantlyhigher levels of epinephrine on a work free day than did women with a high symptom load (p <0.05). No significant differences were found in norepinephrine responses. When analysing thesummary measure of allostatic load in relation to symptom prevalence no significant differencebetween the symptom groups emerged. One possible explanation for this result could be that amajority of the study population was healthy, reporting a low level of symptoms in general.However, the results support the notion that common, medically unexplained symptoms amongwomen are associated with certain biological parameters known to play a role in the developmentof ill health.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 21, no 1, 45-52 p.
unexplained symptoms, physiological stress, stress responses, self reported symptoms
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22884DOI: 10.1002/smi.1037OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-22884DiVA: diva2:189677