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Self-Critical Perfectionism Predicts Lower Cortisol Response to Experimental Stress in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Kempke, S; Luyten, P; Mayes, LC; Van Houdenhove, B; Claes, S; (2016) Self-Critical Perfectionism Predicts Lower Cortisol Response to Experimental Stress in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Health Psychology , 35 (3) pp. 298-307. 10.1037/hea0000299. Green open access

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Abstract

Previous studies have shown that self-critical perfectionism (SCP) is implicated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). However, to date, no studies exist that have examined whether SCP is related to a hypofunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which has been shown to be a key factor in the pathophysiology of CFS. We conducted a quasi-experimental study to examine the effects of SCP (as measured with the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire) on stress reactivity in a sample of 41 female CFS patients. Participants were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Both subjective stress and salivary cortisol levels were measured until 90 minutes after the TSST. We also examined the relationship between stress reactivity and illness characteristics (i.e. duration and severity of symptoms). The results showed that SCP was associated with increased subjective stress reactivity, but with decreased HPA-axis reactivity as indicated by a blunted cortisol response to the TSST. Reduced cortisol reactivity was associated with greater symptom severity. There was no relationship between cortisol reactivity and illness duration. Our findings suggest that SCP is associated with loss of resilience of the neurobiological stress response system in CFS.

Type: Article
Title: Self-Critical Perfectionism Predicts Lower Cortisol Response to Experimental Stress in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/hea0000299
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000299
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Trier Social Stress Test, hypothalamus pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, personality, neuroendocrine stress response
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1483344
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