Pituitary-Adrenal System

Publication Title: 
Journal of Psychiatric Research

Stress related disorders such as depression and anxiety are leading sources of disability worldwide, and current treatment methods such as conventional antidepressant medications are not beneficial for all individuals. There is evidence that yoga has mood-enhancing properties possibly related to its inhibitory effects on physiological stress and inflammation, which are frequently associated with affective disorders. However the biological mechanisms via which yoga exerts its therapeutic mood-modulating effects are largely unknown.

Author(s): 
Pascoe, Michaela C.
Bauer, Isabelle E.
Publication Title: 
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.)

OBJECTIVES: Exercise is considered an acceptable method for improving and maintaining physical and emotional health. A growing body of evidence supports the belief that yoga benefits physical and mental health via down-regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The purpose of this article is to provide a scholarly review of the literature regarding research studies comparing the effects of yoga and exercise on a variety of health outcomes and health conditions.

Author(s): 
Ross, Alyson
Thomas, Sue
Publication Title: 
Trauma, Violence & Abuse

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) widely occurs among victims or witness of disasters. With flashbacks, hyperarousal, and avoidance being the typical symptoms, PTSD became a focus of psychological research. The earthquake in Wenchuan, China, on May 12, 2008, was without precedent in magnitude and aftermath and caused huge damage, which drew scientists' attention to mental health of the survivors.

Author(s): 
Hong, Chunlan
Efferth, Thomas
Publication Title: 
Psychoneuroendocrinology

Chronically stressed rodents who are allowed to eat calorie-dense "comfort" food develop greater mesenteric fat, which in turn dampens hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis activity. We tested whether similar relations exist in humans, at least cross-sectionally. Fifty-nine healthy premenopausal women were exposed to a standard laboratory stressor to examine HPA response to acute stress and underwent diurnal saliva sampling for basal cortisol and response to dexamethasone administration.

Author(s): 
Tomiyama, A. Janet
Dallman, Mary F.
Epel, Elissa S.
Publication Title: 
Psychosomatic Medicine

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis associated with disadvantaged social position in working populations also occurs in older age groups. METHODS: This study examines the association of several indicators of social position with two measures of cortisol secretion, a product of the HPA axis. We examined the cortisol awakening response (CAR), and slope of the decline in cortisol secretion across the day.

Author(s): 
Kumari, Meena
Badrick, Ellena
Chandola, Tarani
Adler, Nancy E.
Epel, Ellisa
Seeman, Teresa
Kirschbaum, Clemens
Marmot, Michael G.
Publication Title: 
Depression and Anxiety

Depression has been likened to a state of "accelerated aging," and depressed individuals have a higher incidence of various diseases of aging, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and dementia. Chronic exposure to certain interlinked biochemical pathways that mediate stress-related depression may contribute to "accelerated aging," cell damage, and certain comorbid medical illnesses.

Author(s): 
Wolkowitz, Owen M.
Epel, Elissa S.
Reus, Victor I.
Mellon, Synthia H.
Publication Title: 
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews

Anxiety disorders increase risk for the early development of several diseases of aging. Elevated inflammation, a common risk factor across diseases of aging, may play a key role in the relationship between anxiety and physical disease. However, the neurobiological mechanisms linking anxiety with elevated inflammation remain unclear. In this review, we present a neurobiological model of the mechanisms by which anxiety promotes inflammation.

Author(s): 
O'Donovan, Aoife
Slavich, George M.
Epel, Elissa S.
Neylan, Thomas C.
Publication Title: 
Hormones (Athens, Greece)

Chronic stress can affect human health through a myriad of behavioral and biochemical pathways. Tauhis review focuses on some key hormonal and metabolic pathways that appear important today. In modern society, we are faced with excessive psychological stress, as well as an epidemic of overeating, and the two together appear to have synergistic effects. Chronic stress can lead to overeating, co-elevation of cortisol and insulin, and suppression of certain anabolic hormones. This state of metabolic stress in turn promotes abdominal adiposity.

Author(s): 
Epel, Elissa S.
Publication Title: 
The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry: The Official Journal of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry

Stress is commonly associated with a variety of psychiatric conditions, including major depression, and with chronic medical conditions, including diabetes and insulin resistance. Whether stress causes these conditions is uncertain, but plausible mechanisms exist by which such effects might occur. To the extent stress-induced hormonal alterations (e.g., chronically elevated cortisol levels and lowered dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA] levels) contribute to psychiatric and medical disease states, manipulations that normalize these hormonal aberrations should prove therapeutic.

Author(s): 
Wolkowitz, O. M.
Epel, E. S.
Reus, V. I.
Publication Title: 
Endocrine Journal

Behavior is shaped by a variety of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, including those underlying anxiety and fear. Neuropeptides are ideal candidates to be involved in the regulation of emotional facets as they are released within the brain and act as neuromodulators/neurotransmitters; furthermore, their large number is prone to direct changes by mutations.

Author(s): 
Landgraf, R.

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