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Psychobiological functioning in mid-adolescent girls and boys: Linkages to self reported stress, self-esteem and recurrent pain
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Among adolescents, the day-to-day functioning of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis) and of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and their relationships with stress, subjective health complaints and psychological factors such as self-esteem, studied in naturalistic settings, have been largely unexplored. This thesis aimed to investigate the diurnal activity of the HPA-axis (Studies I & II) in terms of salivary cortisol and the ANS/SNS system (Study III) in terms of salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) in mid-adolescent girls and boys. Additionally, linkages between self-reported stress, self-esteem, recurrent pain and biomarkers were investigated. A further aim was to describe potential differences between girls and boys respectively. Study I showed that both girls and boys exhibited the typical diurnal cortisol profile with high levels in the morning that decreased throughout the day. Girls had higher total cortisol levels, while no differences emerged for measures of the cortisol increase. Study II showed no significant linkages between self-ratings of stress and cortisol. However, stress was associated with recurrent pain in girls. Study III showed that, for girls, both self-esteem and self-reported stress were related to morning levels of both cortisol and sAA, to the diurnal sAA output and to a conjoint measure of amylase over cortisol, AOC. To conclude, the findings suggest that both stress and self-esteem may be linked to different measures of ANS and HPA-axis activity, but also to measures of ANS and HPA-axis dysregulation, particularly among mid-adolescent girls.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2014. , 103 p.
Keyword [en]
Adolescents, Cortisol, Alpha-amylase, Stress, Self-esteem, Recurrent pain
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107167ISBN: 978-91-7447-980-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-107167DiVA: diva2:743675
Public defence
2014-10-10, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-09-18 Created: 2014-09-04 Last updated: 2017-05-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Single and aggregate salivary cortisol measures during two schooldays in midadolescent girls and boys
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Single and aggregate salivary cortisol measures during two schooldays in midadolescent girls and boys
2014 (English)In: PsyCh Journal, ISSN 2046-0252, E-ISSN 2046-0260, Vol. 3, no 2, 121-131 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, including its regulation of cortisol, is central to bodily functioning and salivary cortisol is a commonly used biomarker that reflects the functioning of the HPA axis. However, knowledge of diurnal cortisol rhythms in healthy adolescents is limited and few studies have examined patterns in midadolescent girls and boys across single and aggregate cortisol measures. To fill this gap, the present study investigated single and aggregate cortisol measures reflecting diurnal rhythms in 14 to 16-year-old girls and boys. Self-administered salivary samples from 79 girls and 42 boys were collected during two schooldays at four timepoints: (a) immediately at awakening, (b) 30 min after waking up, (c) 60 min after waking up, and (d) at 8:00 p.m. Additionally, diary data including time of awakening, sampling times, and other potential confounders were analyzed. As for single measures, both girls and boys exhibited a typical diurnal cortisol profile with high levels in the morning that decreased throughout the day. However, girls had higher morning cortisol than did boys with significant differences at time of awakening, and at 30 and 60 min postawakening. For the aggregate measures, girls had a larger total level of cortisol in terms of cortisol awakening response (CARG), area under the curve (AUCG), and rise over run (slopeawake to last), while no differences emerged for reactivity measures. Taken together, these findings suggest differences in single and aggregate cortisol measures between midadolescent girls and boys. Such differences in diurnal cortisol between pubertal girls and boys may play a role for the differential health trajectories typically found among adult women and men.

Keyword
adolescence; covariates; gender; salivary cortisol measures
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107164 (URN)10.1002/pchj.48 (DOI)
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2006-1637
Available from: 2014-09-04 Created: 2014-09-04 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Perceived stress, recurrent pain, and aggregate salivary cortisol measures in mid-adolescent girls and boys
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perceived stress, recurrent pain, and aggregate salivary cortisol measures in mid-adolescent girls and boys
2017 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, ISSN 0036-5564, E-ISSN 1467-9450, Vol. 58, no 1, 36-42 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Measures of perceived stress have been criticized for theoretical inconsistency. However, the validated pressure activation stress scale has been suggested as a theoretically sound alternative. But it is unclear how pressure and activation stress relate to objective and subjective measures including commonly used aggregate cortisol measures and health complaints respectively. Specifically, this study aimed at investigating how pressure and activation stress were related to aggregate salivary cortisol measures and recurrent pain in mid-adolescent girls and boys. Mid-adolescents (119 girls and 56 boys) provided self-reports in questionnaires on activation and pressure stress and recurrent pain (headache, stomach ache, neck/shoulder and back pain). Additionally, adolescents sampled saliva during an ordinary school day: (1) immediately at awakening; (2) 30 minutes after waking up; (3) 60 minutes after waking up, and (4) at 8 p.m. These samples were analyzed for cortisol. Hierarchical regressions showed no statistically significant associations between activation and pressure stress and cortisol, neither for girls nor for boys. However, activation and pressure stress were significantly associated with recurrent pain but only for girls. The findings may relate to subjective and objective measures reflecting distinct aspects of stress-related functioning. However, the study participants included mid-adolescents whose bodily systems are flexible and still relatively unaffected by the strain of their daily stress perceptions. To conclude, the non-significant relationships between activation and pressure stress and commonly used aggregate measures of cortisol adds to the understanding of how perceived stress may relate to physiological functioning in the daily life of adolescents when using such aggregate measures.

Keyword
activation, cortisol, mid-adolescence, recurrent pain, pressure
National Category
Applied Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-137934 (URN)10.1111/sjop.12347 (DOI)000396914800006 ()
Note

This research was supported financially by FORTE. Dr. Folkesson Hellstadius held a PhD position funded by CHESS. Dr. Lindfors was in part supported by a senior research fellowship at Stockholm University, Department of Psychology.

Available from: 2017-01-13 Created: 2017-01-13 Last updated: 2017-05-03Bibliographically approved
3. How do self-reported stress and self-esteem relate to diurnal profiles of salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol in mid-adolescent girls and boys
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How do self-reported stress and self-esteem relate to diurnal profiles of salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol in mid-adolescent girls and boys
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase (sAA), that reflect hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis) activity and sympathetic activity within the autonomic nervous system (ANS) respectively, are biomarkers with pronounced diurnal rhythms. While research on salivary cortisol is increasing, less is known about the diurnal rhythm of sAA, particularly in adolescents. Also, the linkages between individual factors, such as self-esteem, stress and the biomarkers cortisol and sAA and their combinations remain to be investigated. Besides detailing the diurnal rhythms of salivary cortisol and sAA in 14-16 year-old girls and boys, this study investigated how self-reported stress and self-esteem relate to aggregate measures of salivary cortisol and sAA and their combinations. In addition to self-reports in questionnaires, self-administered salivary samples were collected from 47 girls and 23 boys during a school day. Results showed that girls had higher levels of morning cortisol than did boys, while there were no differences in sAA. Moreover, self-esteem and stress were associated with cortisol and sAA measures, but for girls only. Taken together, the findings suggest that both stress and self-esteem are linked to both separate and combined measures of ANS and HPA-axis activity, particularly among mid-adolescent girls.

Keyword
adolescence, ANS/SNS-markers, HPA-axis, stress, self-esteem
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107166 (URN)
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and WelfareThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Available from: 2014-09-04 Created: 2014-09-04 Last updated: 2014-09-05

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