Posttraumatic stress symptoms, intrusive thoughts, and disruption are longitudinally related to elevated cortisol and catecholamines following a major hurricane

Gail Ironson, Mahendra Kumar, Debra Greenwood, Neil Schneiderman, Dean Cruess, Courtney B. Kelsch, Christina Wynings, Rod Wellens, Charles Benight, Kent Burnett, Jesus B. Fernandez, Andrew Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This is the first study of a natural disaster (Hurricane Andrew) in which psychological and neuroendocrine data were collected 1-4 and 9-12 months afterward. Data were assessed using a community sample (N=111) of hurricane survivors. Elevated posttraumatic stress symptoms (intrusive and avoidant thoughts) and stress hormones that initially were twice normal control values decreased significantly over time and returned to levels of non-hurricane controls by the end of the year. In contrast to previous reports, suggesting low cortisol in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), our sample had elevated cortisol, perhaps due to the nature of the trauma (i.e., natural disaster vs. crime, rape or war), our timing, or getting samples a few months after the event. In addition, the decrease in stress hormones over the year (cortisol and epinephrine [E]) was related to a decrease in psychological symptoms of trauma. Cortisol and norepinephrine (NE) were both related to the hurricane experience as well (damage and rebuilding; damage and disruption). Gender differences showed women reported more distress, but men had higher NE and cortisol. Finally, cortisol correlated most consistently both cross sectionally and longitudinally with reported days ill.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-52
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

Fingerprint

Cyclonic Storms
Catecholamines
Hydrocortisone
trauma
natural disaster
damages
posttraumatic stress disorder
Disasters
rape
gender-specific factors
Norepinephrine
offense
Hormones
Rape
event
Crime
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Epinephrine
community
Survivors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cultural Studies

Cite this

Posttraumatic stress symptoms, intrusive thoughts, and disruption are longitudinally related to elevated cortisol and catecholamines following a major hurricane. / Ironson, Gail; Kumar, Mahendra; Greenwood, Debra; Schneiderman, Neil; Cruess, Dean; Kelsch, Courtney B.; Wynings, Christina; Wellens, Rod; Benight, Charles; Burnett, Kent; Fernandez, Jesus B.; Baum, Andrew.

In: Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, Vol. 19, No. 1, 01.03.2014, p. 24-52.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ironson, Gail ; Kumar, Mahendra ; Greenwood, Debra ; Schneiderman, Neil ; Cruess, Dean ; Kelsch, Courtney B. ; Wynings, Christina ; Wellens, Rod ; Benight, Charles ; Burnett, Kent ; Fernandez, Jesus B. ; Baum, Andrew. / Posttraumatic stress symptoms, intrusive thoughts, and disruption are longitudinally related to elevated cortisol and catecholamines following a major hurricane. In: Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research. 2014 ; Vol. 19, No. 1. pp. 24-52.
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