Depressive rumination alters cortisol decline in Major Depressive Disorder

Joelle Lemoult, Jutta Joormann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Depressive rumination - a central characteristic of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) - is a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy that prolongs sad mood and depressive episodes. Considerable research demonstrates the emotional and behavioral consequences of depressive rumination, yet few studies investigate its effect on neuroendocrine functioning. The current study examined the effect of an emotion regulation manipulation on the trajectory of cortisol concentrations among individuals with MDD and healthy controls (CTL). Sadness was induced via forced failure. Participants then were randomly assigned to a depressive rumination or distraction emotion regulation induction. MDDs in the rumination condition exhibited less cortisol decline compared to MDDs in the distraction condition and compared to CTLs in either condition. Findings suggest that depressive rumination alters the trajectory of cortisol secretion in MDD and may prolong cortisol production. Results thereby provide important insights into the interaction of biological and psychological factors through which distress contributes to MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortisol
  • Depression
  • Emotion regulation
  • Experimental
  • HPA axis
  • Rumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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