A team of scholars of the University of Iceland and the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico City, in collaboration with a colleague from TU Dresdenfound evidence showing that doctors may soon be able to measure i stress levels in patients by measuring the levels of cortisol present in their hair.
The results of the Research have been published in the scientific journal PLOS Global Public Health.
The researchers noted that their findings indicate that cortisol levels in a person’s hair may serve as a biomarker representing stress levels in the recent past. Scientists recognized that such a test should take into account other factors, however, that may have led to increased cortisol production, such as the use of certain drugs or the presence of benign tumors.
Bianca Serwinski (UCL Epidemiology and Public Health), explained: “Although previous studies have used measures of sage, blood and urine to measure the links between stress and income, we now know that the stress hormone cortisol also emerges in the hair. By using the hair to examine hormone levels, we can provide an estimate of the cumulative secretion of cortisol over an extended period of time. This has allowed us to observe changes in income and levels over time ”.
Very interesting research has stated that hair samples can be used to measure the effects of asthma on women’s cortisol levels during pregnancy, according to research presented. at the AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo 2015 in Atlanta. This research also shows that levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, tend to be lower among pregnant women with asthma than in those without chronic inflammatory lung disease.
“We hope the hair samples will help establish the role that changes in cortisol levels during pregnancy have on the health of women and their babies,” said the study co-author. Laura Smy, a researcher at the University of Toronto.
The study also made an unexpected discovery, however: “For people with asthma, regardless of whether they were using inhaled corticosteroids or not, their response to increased cortisol was dampened,” Smy explained: “They had significantly lower cortisol levels in hair during the second and third trimesters compared to women in the control group ”.
High levels of cortisol may reveal the risk of increased incidence of cardiovascular disease: “Like hypertension or abdominal fat, the results suggest that elevated cortisol levels are an important signal that an individual is at risk for cardiovascular disease,” he said. , Laura Manenschijn, from Erasmus MC Rotterdam, The Netherlands: “Because scalp hair can gain insight into how cortisol levels have changed over time, hair analysis offers us a better tool for assessing that risk.”
“The data showed a clear link between chronically elevated cortisol levels and cardiovascular disease,” he said Elisabeth van Rossum, Erasmus MC scientist: “More studies are needed to explore the role of long-term cortisol measurement as a predictor of cardiovascular disease and how it can be used to inform new treatment or prevention strategies.”
A very important study, carried out by the researchers of the Athens University Medical School in Athens, Greecehas linked abnormalities of the hormone “stress” cortisol with symptoms of depression in obese children and confirms that obesity and depression often occur together, even in children.
“There is evidence in adults that abnormal cortisol regulation plays a role in both obesity and depression,” said study lead author Panagiota Pervanidou, of Athens University Medical School in Athens, Greece: “Our study indicates that cortisol abnormalities may be at the basis of obesity and depression starting in childhood ”.
“We recommend that obese children be screened for depression and anxiety, especially female adolescents, who have the highest risk,” concluded the expert. “In addition, children diagnosed with depression should be evaluated for disordered eating, because these patients often develop obesity or anorexia ”.
During the Covid19 pandemic, the stress levels caused by the continuous lockdowns and the fear of being infected reached worrying results. The doctor Lucia Di Guida, psychotherapist, EMDR therapist, specializing in the treatment of trauma, eating disorders, clinical sexology and digital psychology, said: “After exposure to stressful events, in fact, a recovery phase would be necessary. The prolonged state of emergency we are experiencing has not allowed this recovery, causing widespread malaise “.
“The information and images to which we are continually exposed can cause suffering through feelings of fear, anger, helplessness and a sense of vulnerability. In these conditions we must have a clear understanding of what is at the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy: the emotions we feel depend on what we think, more than on the characteristics of the situations themselves. Stress is the result of a double evaluation: first we evaluate the situation, the risk, the weight of the threat to be faced and, then, we evaluate the personal resources to manage it “.
“In recent years – continued the expert – I have noticed an increase in requests for help and in the number of patients. Comparisons with other colleagues also confirm this trend. This is certainly due to a greater diffusion of discomfort and psychological malaise, but also to the recognition and greater sensitivity towards this problem ”.
“The requests for help are of various kinds, but personally I have noticed – following the pandemic – that the most common disorders seem to be eating disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders (mainly depression) and obsessive compulsive. I also perceived the spread of behavioral disorders based for example on the difficulty of managing anger, often the other side of helplessness and sadness. Also not to be overlooked is a percentage of people with discomfort connected to the failure to process bereavement or traumatic situations “.
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