Sympathetic and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Asymmetry in Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Reeves, J. W., Fisher, A. J., Newman, M. G., & Granger, D. A. (2016). Sympathetic and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal asymmetry in generalized anxiety disorder. Psychophysiology, 53(6), 951-957. doi:10.1111/psyp.12634
Posted: 14 May 2019
Date Written: 2016
Physiologic investigations of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have skewed toward assessment of the autonomic nervous system, largely neglecting hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis variables. Although these systems coordinate-suggesting a degree of symmetry-to promote adaptive functioning, most studies opt to monitor either one system or the other. Using a ratio of salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) over salivary cortisol, the present study examined symmetry between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and HPA axis in individuals with GAD (n = 71) and healthy controls (n = 37). Compared to healthy controls, individuals with GAD exhibited greater baseline ratios of sAA/cortisol and smaller ratios of sAA/cortisol following a mental arithmetic challenge. We propose that the present study provides evidence for SNS-HPA asymmetry in GAD. Further, these results suggest that increased SNS suppression in GAD may be partially mediated by cortisol activity.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation