HPA -axis responses to an interpersonal stress task among socially anxious older adolescents
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation is linked to physical health problems and several psychiatric disorders, but is not well documented for social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD often emerges in adolescence and precedes several other psychiatric disorders. Therefore, HPA-axis responses to a negotiation stress task between romantic partners in 18 SAD older adolescents and 18 matched controls were examined. The SAD group displayed significant anticipatory cortisol reactivity and significantly delayed recovery after the task. There were no significant group differences in cortisol reactivity to the task. The SAD group's average cortisol levels tended to be lower across all measurement times and this was significant for SAD males. Exploratory analyses revealed positive associations between subjective stress and cortisol—particularly for the SAD group.