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Effects of cognitive-behavioral stress management on cortisol responses to acute stress.

29 Jun

Researchers at the University of Zurich examined the longterm effects of cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM) training on the cortisol stress responses in healthy men and women.

A randomized, controlled, clinical trial out of the University of Zurich examined the longterm effects of cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM) training on the cortisol stress responses in healthy men and women. (Extended stress with its continuous, exaggerated secretion of cortisol has been found to have negative effects on health and cognitive functioning.)

Eighty-three healthy subjects were randomly assigned to cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM) training or a control condition. Four months after the training, 76 subjects underwent a standardized psychosocial stress test.

Salivary cortisol responses were assessed repeatedly before and after the stress test. Subjects in the CBSM group showed significantly reduced cortisol stress responses. With regard to gender, this effect was observed in both men and women but the effect was smaller in women than in men. (Use of oral contraceptives in women influenced the cortisol response, but did not have an impact on the CBSM effect on cortisol.)

The results show that the previously reported moderation of cortisol stress responses through CBSM are observable in both men and women, and the researchers suggest that similar interventions be used for prevention and therapy of detrimental stress effects.

Citation: Hammerfald K, Eberle C, Grau M, Kinsperger A, Zimmermann A, Ehlert U, Gaab J Persistent effects of cognitive-behavioral stress management on cortisol responses to acute stress in healthy subjects--a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Apr; 31 (3): pages 333-9. Epub 2005 Sep 23.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award