HPA axis reactivity to pharmacologic and psychological stressors in euthymic women with histories of postpartum versus major depression

Elizabeth H. Ferguson, Arianna Di Florio, Brenda Pearson, Karen T. Putnam, Susan Girdler, David R. Rubinow, Samantha Meltzer-Brody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

It is unclear whether women with a history of postpartum depression (PPD) have residual, abnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity, as has been reported in major depression (MDD). Further unclear is whether the abnormalities in HPA axis reactivity associated with MDD represent a stable, underlying predisposition or a state-dependent phenomenon. This study sought the following: (1) to determine if euthymic postpartum women with a history of depression have an abnormal HPA axis reactivity to pharmacologic and psychological challenges and (2) to compare HPA reactivity in women with histories of PPD versus MDD. As a secondary objective, we wanted to determine the influence of trauma history on HPA axis function. Forty-five parous (12–24 months postpartum), euthymic women with history of MDD (n = 15), PPD (n = 15), and controls (n = 15) completed pharmacologic (dexamethasone/corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test [DEX/CRH]) and psychological (Trier social stress test [TSST]) challenges during the luteal phase. Outcome measures were cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response after DEX/CRH, and blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol response during the TSST. All groups had robust cortisol and ACTH response to DEX/CRH and cortisol response to TSST. Groups did not differ significantly in cortisol or ACTH response to DEX/CRH or in blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, or cortisol response to TSST. Cortisol/ACTH ratio did not differ significantly between groups. Trauma history was associated with decreased cortisol response to DEX/CRH in women with histories of MDD, which was not significant after correction (F8,125, p = 0.02, Greenhouse-Geisser corrected p = 0.11). Currently euthymic women with histories of MDD or PPD did not demonstrate residual abnormal stress responsivity following administration of either a pharmacologic or psychological stressor.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages411-420
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Fingerprint

Postpartum Period
Hydrocortisone
Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
Depression
Psychology
Postpartum Depression
Dexamethasone
Exercise Test
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
Epinephrine
Norepinephrine
Heart Rate
Blood Pressure
Psychological Tests
Luteal Phase
Wounds and Injuries
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Dexamethasone/corticotropin-releasing hormone test
  • HPA axis
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Postpartum depression
  • Trier social stress test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

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title = "HPA axis reactivity to pharmacologic and psychological stressors in euthymic women with histories of postpartum versus major depression",
abstract = "It is unclear whether women with a history of postpartum depression (PPD) have residual, abnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity, as has been reported in major depression (MDD). Further unclear is whether the abnormalities in HPA axis reactivity associated with MDD represent a stable, underlying predisposition or a state-dependent phenomenon. This study sought the following: (1) to determine if euthymic postpartum women with a history of depression have an abnormal HPA axis reactivity to pharmacologic and psychological challenges and (2) to compare HPA reactivity in women with histories of PPD versus MDD. As a secondary objective, we wanted to determine the influence of trauma history on HPA axis function. Forty-five parous (12–24 months postpartum), euthymic women with history of MDD (n = 15), PPD (n = 15), and controls (n = 15) completed pharmacologic (dexamethasone/corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test [DEX/CRH]) and psychological (Trier social stress test [TSST]) challenges during the luteal phase. Outcome measures were cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response after DEX/CRH, and blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol response during the TSST. All groups had robust cortisol and ACTH response to DEX/CRH and cortisol response to TSST. Groups did not differ significantly in cortisol or ACTH response to DEX/CRH or in blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, or cortisol response to TSST. Cortisol/ACTH ratio did not differ significantly between groups. Trauma history was associated with decreased cortisol response to DEX/CRH in women with histories of MDD, which was not significant after correction (F8,125, p = 0.02, Greenhouse-Geisser corrected p = 0.11). Currently euthymic women with histories of MDD or PPD did not demonstrate residual abnormal stress responsivity following administration of either a pharmacologic or psychological stressor.",
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author = "Ferguson, {Elizabeth H.} and {Di Florio}, Arianna and Brenda Pearson and Putnam, {Karen T.} and Susan Girdler and Rubinow, {David R.} and Samantha Meltzer-Brody",
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AU - Ferguson,Elizabeth H.

AU - Di Florio,Arianna

AU - Pearson,Brenda

AU - Putnam,Karen T.

AU - Girdler,Susan

AU - Rubinow,David R.

AU - Meltzer-Brody,Samantha

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N2 - It is unclear whether women with a history of postpartum depression (PPD) have residual, abnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity, as has been reported in major depression (MDD). Further unclear is whether the abnormalities in HPA axis reactivity associated with MDD represent a stable, underlying predisposition or a state-dependent phenomenon. This study sought the following: (1) to determine if euthymic postpartum women with a history of depression have an abnormal HPA axis reactivity to pharmacologic and psychological challenges and (2) to compare HPA reactivity in women with histories of PPD versus MDD. As a secondary objective, we wanted to determine the influence of trauma history on HPA axis function. Forty-five parous (12–24 months postpartum), euthymic women with history of MDD (n = 15), PPD (n = 15), and controls (n = 15) completed pharmacologic (dexamethasone/corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test [DEX/CRH]) and psychological (Trier social stress test [TSST]) challenges during the luteal phase. Outcome measures were cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response after DEX/CRH, and blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol response during the TSST. All groups had robust cortisol and ACTH response to DEX/CRH and cortisol response to TSST. Groups did not differ significantly in cortisol or ACTH response to DEX/CRH or in blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, or cortisol response to TSST. Cortisol/ACTH ratio did not differ significantly between groups. Trauma history was associated with decreased cortisol response to DEX/CRH in women with histories of MDD, which was not significant after correction (F8,125, p = 0.02, Greenhouse-Geisser corrected p = 0.11). Currently euthymic women with histories of MDD or PPD did not demonstrate residual abnormal stress responsivity following administration of either a pharmacologic or psychological stressor.

AB - It is unclear whether women with a history of postpartum depression (PPD) have residual, abnormal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity, as has been reported in major depression (MDD). Further unclear is whether the abnormalities in HPA axis reactivity associated with MDD represent a stable, underlying predisposition or a state-dependent phenomenon. This study sought the following: (1) to determine if euthymic postpartum women with a history of depression have an abnormal HPA axis reactivity to pharmacologic and psychological challenges and (2) to compare HPA reactivity in women with histories of PPD versus MDD. As a secondary objective, we wanted to determine the influence of trauma history on HPA axis function. Forty-five parous (12–24 months postpartum), euthymic women with history of MDD (n = 15), PPD (n = 15), and controls (n = 15) completed pharmacologic (dexamethasone/corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) test [DEX/CRH]) and psychological (Trier social stress test [TSST]) challenges during the luteal phase. Outcome measures were cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) response after DEX/CRH, and blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol response during the TSST. All groups had robust cortisol and ACTH response to DEX/CRH and cortisol response to TSST. Groups did not differ significantly in cortisol or ACTH response to DEX/CRH or in blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, norepinephrine, or cortisol response to TSST. Cortisol/ACTH ratio did not differ significantly between groups. Trauma history was associated with decreased cortisol response to DEX/CRH in women with histories of MDD, which was not significant after correction (F8,125, p = 0.02, Greenhouse-Geisser corrected p = 0.11). Currently euthymic women with histories of MDD or PPD did not demonstrate residual abnormal stress responsivity following administration of either a pharmacologic or psychological stressor.

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KW - Major depressive disorder

KW - Postpartum depression

KW - Trier social stress test

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