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Initial posttraumatic urinary cortisol levels predict subsequent PTSD symptoms in motor vehicle accident victims

      Abstract

      Background: This study was designed to examine the relationship between urinary hormone levels collected upon admission to the trauma unit following a motor vehicle accident and posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology 1 month later.
      Methods: Fifteen-hour urine samples were collected from 63 male and 36 female motor vehicle accident victims and were used to assess levels of catecholamines and cortisol reflecting peritraumatic and acute-phase posttraumatic levels. Presence of posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology was assessed 1 month after the accident.
      Results: Motor vehicle accident victims subsequently diagnosed with acute posttraumatic stress disorder excreted significantly lower levels of cortisol in 15-hour urines collected upon admission to the hospital. In addition, urinary levels of cortisol predicted a significant percentage of the variance in intrusive and avoidant thoughts 1 month after the accident.
      Conclusions: The results of our study suggest that initial cortisol levels in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event contribute, in part, to subsequent symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.

      Keywords

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