Blunted neurobiological reactivity and attentional bias to threat underlie stress-related disorders in women survivors of intimate partner violence

X. Goldberg*, C. Espelt, R. Nadal, Y. Alon, D. Palao, Y. Bar-Haim, A. Armario

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Intimate partner violence (IPV) alters women's neurobiological stress response systems. We propose that individual differences early in the attentional processing of threats are associated with these neurobiological mechanisms and contribute to mental illness in this population. Methods We assessed attentional bias in relation to threat (AB) in women survivors of IPV (n = 69) and controls (n = 36), and examined overall cortisol secretion using hair cortisol (HC), and stress responsiveness measuring salivary cortisol and α-amylase (sAA) before (T0), and after (T1, T2) an acute psychosocial stress task (Trier Social Stress Test). We used repeated-measures ANCOVAs to explore the associations between Group (IPV, control) and AB with acute stress response, and regression models to examine the associations with mental health symptoms. Results There were no between-group differences in HC levels. An interaction between Group and AB was found regarding cortisol reactivity (p < 0.05). IPV women with threat avoidance AB showed a blunted cortisol response compared to controls and to IPV participants with threat vigilance AB. The association between sAA reactivity and the interaction between Group, AB, and time approached significance (p = 0.07), with a trend to lower sAA levels particularly in IPV women with threat avoidance AB. Group and cortisol reactivity were associated with symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (8-20% explained variance). Conclusions Threat avoidance AB is associated with blunted acute cortisol response among women exposed to chronic stress (IPV). Experiencing IPV and acute cortisol response appear to be clearly implicated in long-term mental health problems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume53
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2023

Keywords

  • Chronic stress
  • cognition
  • cortisol
  • interpersonal violence
  • mental health
  • α-amylase

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Blunted neurobiological reactivity and attentional bias to threat underlie stress-related disorders in women survivors of intimate partner violence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this