A Comparative Study on Influence of Stress on Diurnal Variations in Salivary Cortisol Levels among Selected Employed and Unemployed Women
Background: Secretion of stress hormone cortisol correlates with the intensity of stressors and their period of occurrence, and may have serious implications on health in the long run.
Aim: This study explores the diurnal variations of the salivary cortisol levels among selected employed and unemployed women.
Method and Material: From a population of 400 employed and 272 unemployed women, 40 women (20 employed and 20 unemployed) were selected. In order to compare the cortisol levels between women without stress and with stress, 5 each from employed and unemployed groups with normal stress scores and 15 from each group with mild to moderate stress scores based on the DAS (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Score) were included in the study.
Results: Employed women exhibited two peaks in the hormonal profile, a sharp peak in the early morning (CAR-cortisol awakening response) with the mean cortisol level of 14.7 ± 5.9 nmol/l which slowly dropped to 10.1 ± 4.7 nmol/l in the noon and increased again by evening to 11.8 ± 4.6 nmol/l. Among the unemployed women, a single peak appeared for CAR that is 12.6 ± 3.5 nmol/l, which gradually declined to 8.1 ± 2.3 nmol/l by evening time.
Conclusion: The extent of stress is exhibited by multiple peaking of cortisol levels among employed women. Unemployed women with stress had markedly high levels of cortisol compared with their counterparts with no stress. It is of greater concern that the employed women with stress have markedly high cortisol levels which could be an indication of health issues in the longer run.
How to cite this article:
Thabassum AF, Begum K, Fathima A. A Comparative Study on Influence of Stress on Diurnal Variations in Salivary Cortisol Levels among Selected Employed and Unemployed Women. Chettinad Health City Med J. 2022;11(2):3-8.
Sanlier N, Arpaci F. A study into the effect of stress on women’s health. J Hum Soc Sci. 2007;2:104-9. [Google Scholar]
Charmandari E, Kino T, Chrousos GP. Familial/ sporadic glucocorticoid resistance: clinical phenotype and molecular mechanisms. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004;1024:168-81. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Levine A, Zagoory-Sharon O, Feldman R, Lewis JG, Weller A. Measuring cortisol in human psychobiological studies. Physiol Behav. 2007;90(1):43-53. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Chida Y, Steptoe A. Cortisol awakening response and psychosocial factors: a systematic review and metaanalysis. Biol Psychol. 2009;80(3):265-78. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Hellhammer DH, Wüst S, Kudielka BM. Salivary cortisol as a biomarker in stress research. Psychoneuroendocri-nology. 2009;34(2):163-71. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Wilhelm I, Born J, Kudielka BM, Schlotz W, Wüst S. Is the cortisol awakening rise a response to awakening? Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2007;32(4):358-66. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Koertge J, Al-Khalili F, Ahnve S, Janszky I, Svane B, Schenck-Gustafsson K. Cortisol and vital exhaustion in relation to significant coronary artery stenosis in middle-aged women with acute coronary syndrome. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2002;27(8):893-906. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Kirschbaum C, Prussner JC, Stone AA, Federenko I, Gaab J, Lintz D, Schommer N, Hellhammer DH. Persistent high cortisol responses to repeated psychological stress in a subpopulation of healthy men. Psychosom Med. 1995;57(5):468-74. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Kudielka BM, Hellhammer DH, Wüst S. Why do we respond so differently? Reviewing determinants of human salivary cortisol responses to challenge. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009;34(1):2-18. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Yi TC, Moochhala S. Mini-review article-current opinion on salivary biomarkers as a measurement for stress and fatigue. Open Biomark J. 2013;6(1):9-14. [Google Scholar]
Silverman MN, Heim CM, Nater UM, Marques AH, Sternberg EM. Neuroendocrine and immune contributors to fatigue. PM R. 2010;2(5):338-46. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Lovibond PF, Lovibond SH. Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 1996.
Saxbe DE. A field (researcher’s) guide to cortisol: tracking HPA axis functioning in everyday life. Health Psychol Rev. 2008;2(2):163-90. [Google Scholar]
Dahlgren A, Kecklund G, Theorell T, Akersted T. Day-to-day variation in saliva cortisol—relation with sleep, stress and self-rated health. Biol Psychol. 2009;82(2):149-55. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Lovell B, Moss M, Wetherell MA. Perceived stress, common health complaints and diurnal patterns of cortisol secretion in young, otherwise healthy individuals. Horm Behav. 2011;60(3):301-5. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Michels N, Sioen I, Braet C, Huybrechts I, Vanaelst B, Wolters M, De Henauw S. Relation between salivary cortisol as stress biomarker and dietary pattern in children. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013;38(9):1512-20. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Izawa S, Saito K, Shirotsuki K, Sugaya N, Nomura S. Effects of prolonged stress on salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone: a study of a two-week teaching practice. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012;37(6):852-8. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Hewlett SA, Rashid R [Internet]. Why are India’s women so stressed out? Harvard Business Review; 2011 [cited 2022 Apr 29]. Available from: https://hbr.org/2011/08/why-are-indias-women-so-stress
Adam EK, Gunnar MR. Relationship functioning and home and work demands predict individual differences in diurnal cortisol patterns in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001;26(2):189-208. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Evolahti A, Hultcrantz M, Collins A. Women’s work stress and cortisol levels: a longitudinal study of the association between the psychosocial work environment and serum cortisol. J Psychosom Res. 2006;61(5):645-52. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Kroenke CH, Spiegelman D, Manson J, Schernhammer ES, Colditz GA, Kawachi I. Work characteristics and incidence of type 2 diabetes in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;165(2):175-83. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]