Depressive Mood, Anger, and Daily Cortisol of Caregivers on High- and Low-Stress Days

Amanda N. Leggett, Steven H. Zarit, Kyungmin Kim, David M. Almeida, Laura Cousino Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study examines the association of daily cortisol with depressive mood and anger. Method. Depressive mood, anger and 2 markers of cortisol, area under the curve (AUC), and cortisol awakening response (CAR) were examined for caregivers (N = 164) of individuals with dementia (IWDs) across 8 days, some of which IWDs attended an adult day service (ADS) program. Caregivers were primarily female (86.7%) with a mean age of 61.99. First, multilevel models were run with CAR and AUC each as separate covariates of anger and depressive mood. A second set of models examined contextual factors of caregivers (i.e., care-related stressors and amount of ADS use) were added to the models for anger and depressive mood (Model 2). Results. On days where caregivers had AUCs below their average they expressed higher anger scores. However in Model 2, anger was associated with more care-related stressors, but not ADS use or daily cortisol. Caregivers who on average had smaller CARs were more likely to be depressed. In Model 2, depressed mood was associated with more care-related stressors and a low average CAR. Discussion. We found that hypocortisol patterns, reflective of chronic stress experienced by caregivers, are associated with negative mood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)820-829
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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