Cortisol reactivity, distress behavior, and behavioral and psychological problems in young adolescents: A longitudinal perspective

Elizabeth J. Susman, Lorah D. Dorn, Gale Inoff-Germain, Edith D. Nottelmann, George P. Chrousos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cortisol levels, observed distress behavior, behavior problems, and symptoms of anxiety and depression are examined in young adolescents. The longitudinal design consists of three times of measurement, at 6-month intervals. We (1) examine covariations among cortisol level and extent of distress behavior in adolescents experiencing a challenging situation, (2) identify intraindividual patterns of change in cortisol level (cortisol reactivity) during the novel and challenging situation at the first time of measurement, (3) examine longitudinal changes in cortisol reactivity and distress behavior, and (4) examine relations between patterns of cortisol reactivity and behavior and psychological problems 1 year later. Significant decreases in distress behavior are found across the 1-year period, whereas changes in cortisol level vary by gender. Cortisol level and extent of distress behavior are related under the most novel and challenging circumstance. Intraindividual differences in cortisol reactivity in the challenging situation are identified: some adolescents increase, some do not change, and others decrease in cortisol level. Adolescents in the increase cortisol reactivity group report more behavior problems and symptoms of depression a year later than do adolescents who do not change or decrease in cortisol level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-105
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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