A Comparative Study on Influence of Stress on Diurnal Variations in Salivary Cortisol Levels among Selected Employed and Unemployed Women

  • Anees F Thabassum Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Sri Devaraj Urs Academy of Higher Education and Research, Kolar, India.
  • K Begum Professor (Rtd), Department of Studies in Food Science and Nutrition, Manasagangothri, University of Mysore, Mysore, India.
  • A Fathima Chief Dietician, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Narayana Hospitals, Mysore, India.
Keywords: Depression, Anxiety, Stress (Psychological), Cortisol, Diurnal Rhythm


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.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24321/2278.2044.202210


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