NIH Research Festival
Introduction: This study aims to explore the relationship between emotional states and a larger overnight change in cortisol (ONC), indicating a healthy circadian rhythm of the HPA axis. However, research on this topic is scarce. The primary objective is to investigate the bidirectional associations between real-time emotional states and ONC, considering potential variations among mood disorder subtypes.
Methods: The study included 154 participants, comprising 58 adolescents/young adults (<30 years) and 96 adults (>30 years). Salivary cortisol and self-reported ratings of emotional states were collected four times daily for two weeks. Linear mixed effects models were employed, incorporating the average anxiety level and day-specific changes. This approach enabled the examination of both between-person and within-person effects of anxiety. Additionally, the diverse population in the NIMH family study data facilitated exploration of potential differences among different mood or anxiety disorders.
Results: Higher average anxiety and lower current-day deviation from average anxiety were associated with higher ONC values. The negative effect of current-day deviation from average anxiety was significantly greater in individuals with Bipolar II compared to controls. Average sad mood was associated with a greater decline in ONC, unaffected by within-day mood shifts. No significant associations were found between ONC and next-day average or deviations of sad mood, energy, or anxiety in the overall sample.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that daily emotional states and/or stressors likely drive changes in cortisol levels, rather than cortisol influencing emotional states. This highlights the potential influence of daily emotional experiences on physiological responses.
Scientific Focus Area: Epidemiology
This page was last updated on Monday, September 25, 2023