Prospective evaluation of plasma cortisol in recent trauma survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder

Psychiatry Res. 2003 Jul 15;119(1-2):171-5. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(03)00098-2.


Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis abnormalities have been described in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and among the recently traumatized. Plasma cortisol and continuous measures of PTSD symptoms were obtained from 21 survivors, at 1 week and 6 months after traumatic events. Eight survivors met Clinician Administered PTSD Scale criteria for PTSD at 6 months. Cortisol levels at 1 week did not predict subsequent PTSD. Survivors with and without PTSD had similar mean levels of cortisol at both time points. Cortisol levels at 6 months negatively correlated with self-reported PTSD symptoms within PTSD subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / blood*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Time Factors


  • Hydrocortisone