Hellhammer, J., Schlotz, W., Stone, A.A., Pirke, K.M. and Hellhammer, D.
Allostatic load, perceived stress, and health: a prospective study in two age groups. [in issue: Biobehavioral Stress Response Protective and Damaging Effects]
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1032, . (doi:10.1196/annals.1314.002).
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Overactivity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPAA) has been observed in the presence of acute stress and, under chronic conditions, in disorders such as depression and anorexia nervosa as well as in cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. However, there may be other stress-related disorders (fatigue, pain, etc) that seem to be associated with mild hypocortisolism. This suggests that two major subtypes of the HPAA response to stress need to be discriminated. In this study, we investigated 76 subjects with and without hypocortisolism, respectively, over a 1-year period. Surprisingly, hypocortisolemic subjects had a lower allostatic load but they scored higher on measures of depression, perceived stress, and physical complaints. We propose a protective role of the hypocortisolemic stress response on cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, particularly in the elderly.
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