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

See all articles by Jonathan W. Reeves

Jonathan W. Reeves

University of California, Berkeley

Aaron Fisher

University of California, Berkeley

Michelle G. Newman

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Psychology

Douglas Granger

Arizona State University

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

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

Reeves, Jonathan W. and Fisher, Aaron and Newman, Michelle G. and Granger, Douglas, Sympathetic and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Asymmetry in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (2016). 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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3383186

Jonathan W. Reeves

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Aaron Fisher

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Michelle G. Newman (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Psychology ( email )

University Park, PA
United States

Douglas Granger

Arizona State University ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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