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HPA-axis reactivity to interpersonal stress in young adults who self -injure

Eliza T McArdle, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to examine HPA-axis functioning in a non-patient sample of self-injurious adolescents in response to an interpersonal stressor. Salivary cortisol levels were measured two times prior to and five times following an interpersonal stressor as markers of HPA-axis reactivity. Women exclusively show a positive relation between self-injurious behavior and the rate at which they reach peak cortisol levels. Both trauma symptoms and depressive symptoms are shown to moderate the relations between self-injurious behavior and cortisol levels in women. Men show no association between these factors, perhaps indicating different processes behind and reasons for self-injurious behavior. These results have implications for theories of etiology, development, maintenance, and treatment of self-injurious behavior in patient populations and in the general public.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

McArdle, Eliza T, "HPA-axis reactivity to interpersonal stress in young adults who self -injure" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110531.