Context: Recently, a growing body of research has provided evidence that dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) is involved in an organism's response to stress and that it may provide beneficial behavioral and neurotrophic effects.
Objective: To investigate plasma DHEA-S and cortisol levels, psychological symptoms of dissociation, and military performance.
Design: Prospective study.
Setting and participants: Twenty-five healthy subjects enrolled in military survival school.
Results: The DHEA-S-cortisol ratios during stress were significantly higher in subjects who reported fewer symptoms of dissociation and exhibited superior military performance.
Conclusions: These data provide prospective, empirical evidence that the DHEA-S level is increased by acute stress in healthy humans and that the DHEA-S-cortisol ratio may index the degree to which an individual is buffered against the negative effects of stress.