Mood changes in response to psychosocial stress in healthy young women: effects of pretreatment with cortisol.Behav Neurosci. 2007 Feb; 121(1):11-20.BN
Effects of cortisol on human mood during stress situations are still incompletely understood, although this topic has important clinical implications. In this experiment, the mood of 44 healthy young women (all oral contraceptive users) was examined. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled time series paradigm was used. Subjects were treated with either 30-mg cortisol or placebo orally. Forty-five minutes later, subjects attended a psychosocial stress procedure (Trier Social Stress Test; TSST; C. Kirschbaum, K. M. Pirke, & D. H. Hellhammer, 1993). The course of the subjects' mood as well as salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels were measured before and after the TSST. With regard to mood, it was found that the groups did not differ in mood before the TSST. After stress exposure, the subjective ratings of current mood state of cortisol-treated women were significantly less negative than that of placebo-treated subjects. These findings show that raising cortisol levels prior to acute stress has a protective effect on mood during stress situations. Results are discussed with regard to the context of specific adaptive effects of cortisol and the role of cortisol in posttraumatic stress disorder.