Sample Essay

Burke. (2005). Depression and cortisol responses to psychological stress: a meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology , 30, 846-56.

It has been thought that altered cortisol responses are related to depression and its severity. Thus, this meta-analysis reviewed seven studies to find a relationship between depression and cortisol levels in response to any stressors. In order to ensure reliability of results, only those studies were included where structured diagnostic criteria for depression was used; only adults were included in the study; included healthy individuals; recorded measurable psychological stressors.

The statistical analysis involved baseline effect sizes to find differences between depressed and non depressed individuals and two different analyses were done for stress reactivity and stress recovery. No difference was found between the baseline effect rates and cortisol level of depressed and non depressed individuals but higher levels of cortisol were found in depressed individuals during recovery phase. An interesting finding in this study was the higher cortisol levels and impaired recovery in afternoon studies and this finding was more significant in elderly patients and those with more severe depression. Thus, the results of this meta-analysis suggest that stress response patterns are different in depressed and non depressed individuals.

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Essay: Depression and cortisol responses to psychological stress
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