Stress induced cortisol release and schizotypy
2018 Elsevier Ltd Cortisol is involved in preparing the body's response for stress. However, in those at risk for mental health problems, abnormal cortisol release following stress has been reported. In particular, we are yet to fully understand how stress leads to an exacerbation of symptoms and progression of risk in those who express psychosis proneness or schizotypy. Using the Trier Social Stress Test, we examined the effect of experimentally induced psychosocial stress on cortisol release in otherwise healthy individuals with schizotypal traits. This cross-sectional study included 58 individuals (32.76% male, mean age 22.43). Schizotypy was assessed by total Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire score and we additionally captured ratings of subjective stress. Salivary cortisol was collected over six time points spread prior to and after stress induction and was available for analysis in 39 individuals (28.21% male, mean age 22.77). Those with high schizotypal traits exhibited higher baseline cortisol levels (5.18 nmoL vs 3.71 nmoL). However, those with high schizotypal traits also displayed reduced mean cortisol release (2.02 nmoL vs 5.11 nmoL) and had a delayed cortisol release peak following psychosocial stress. These results indicate those with high schizotypal traits do not display physiological readiness following psychosocial stressors, perhaps due to an already taxed stress system.