Controllable and uncontrollable stress in humans: Alterations in mood and neuroendocrine and psychophysiological function

A. Breier, M. Albus, D. Pickar, T. P. Zahn, O. M. Wolkowitz, S. M. Paul

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Abstract

The authors exposed 10 healthy human volunteers to the stress of loud (100 dB) noise under controllable and uncontrollable conditions on two separate days. Subjects reported higher self-ratings of helplessness, lack of control, tension, stress, unhappiness, anxiety, and depression; had greater hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function as measured by elevations in plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone; and had higher levels of sympathetic nervous system and electrodermal activity after the uncontrollable stress condition than after exposure to controllable stress. Thus, lack of control over even a mildly aversive stimulus can produce alterations in mood as well as neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous system changes in healthy subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1419-1425
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume144
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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