Master of Science
Ananda B. Amstadter
EXAMINATION OF BASAL NEUROENDOCRINE LEVELS IN OIF/OEF/OND VETERANS
By Sage E. Hawn, B.S.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015.
Major Director: Ananda B. Amstadter, PhD.
Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, & Human and Molecular Genetics
High rates of combat exposure exist among veterans of the recent conflicts, and are associated with debilitating mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Numerous psychosocial and biologic factors are associated with PTSD, including the HPA-axis. The present study aimed to compare baseline neuroendocrine levels by trauma group (PTSD, trauma exposed [TE], and non-trauma controls [NTC]) among a sample of young veterans. An exploratory aim was to examine potential moderators of the relation between PTSD and basal cortisol/ACTH. Group differences in cortisol were nominally significant, with the NTC group having significantly higher cortisol than the PTSD group. Sleep disturbance was the only moderator of this relationship in cortisol, although lifetime trauma load significantly predicted basal cortisol across all models. No significant effects were demonstrated for ACTH. Examining effects of trauma on basal physiology provides a critical stepping ground for future investigations that may inform targeted prevention and intervention efforts.
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